Saturday, November 23, 2013

How Franchise Professionals Should Use LinkedIn

I had the opportunity to write another article for the November 2013 issue of the International Franchise Association's monthly magazine "Franchising World".   I hope you will take 5 minutes and read it and let me know what you think.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Today's the Day

I retired today after working professionally in radio and direct mail since I was a junior in college.

Here's what I did over the past 37 years:


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

My wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary last month in Charleston, SC attending the Southern Ground Music and Food Festival.  Now in it's 3rd year, this combines Grammy award-winning country music superstar Zac Brown's passion and appreciation of excellent musicians and great food.

The purpose of this post is not to recount our personal experience but to compliment the organizers and musicians and share just a little bit of the marketing magic that made me spend nearly $1000 for 2 two-day tickets.

If I were to write about this, it would likely be a ten-minute read, but luckily the organizers put my blog post in a 2 minute video.

Over 20 music acts, 2 stages, an up-close to the stage opportunity, a VIP Lounge with an open bar and dinner each night, air-conditioned clean bathrooms, phone-chargers and even a Ferris-wheel were just part of the experience.  As a marketer, I appreciated the sponsors they were able to incorporate.  Landshark Beer and Jack Daniels are two of Zac Brown Band's tour sponsors, but they also brought in Capital One and handful of other companies, some local to Charleston and Nashville (the other festival venue in September).

From the venue layout, the sponsor signage, the product activation, the merchandising, the pre-show patron communications, a mobile app, the stage theatrics/video wall, social media integration on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, plus the follow up videos and photos, it's inspiring to see an outstanding music artist surround himself with talented marketers!

While Zac and team are making a lot of money from this effort, they are giving back by building a camp for children with special needs.  Some of the proceeds from the event went to Camp Southern Ground

Good job!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I have nothing to say...

I realized today that I haven't posted anything on this, my personal blog, is quite some time.  I hate seeing that my last post was mid-June.

Where did the summer go?

More importantly, how come I haven't had anything to post?

I did start a new blog for my role as Director of Franchise Sales at Valpak, and perhaps that's where my blogging focus has been.

I also wrote an article that will appear in the November issue of the International Franchise Association's "Franchising World" magazine.   I'll post it here too, once it's published.  It's on a topic I'm pretty passionate about and will likely write about again in the future - how we all are misusing our LinkedIn profiles.

So in the meantime, here's how I spent my summer (vacation):

NASCAR Race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Park

Picture I took in Chatham, Massachusetts

The Boston Bombing Memorial

Sonoma & Napa Valley 

9/11 Memorial New York City

It's also been fun watching the Tampa Bay Rays play "September" baseball ALL summer, helping old friends move out and new friends move in, making the annual trek to Washington DC to visit our Congressmen's offices discussing the franchising industry's key issues, and seeing our son continue to develop his personal and professional life.

I hope your summer was fruitful too.

I'll be back next when I DO have something to say.....


Saturday, June 15, 2013

My New Car gets 47 MPGs

In mid- April I took delivery of a 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid. It's advertised to get 47 Miles to the Gallon. 47 MPGs! Are you kidding me. There is no way!!

But that's what the 100% non-ethanol, flat test track, no air conditioning running, EPA-tested rating says that the Fusion Hybrid should get both city & highway.

I'm not getting 47 MPGs....

but despite that, I'm thrilled with the vehicle and would highly recommend most people.....but not everyone.

 Here's why I'm thrilled not be getting the 47 MPGs:
  • I never expected to get 47 MPG. 
  • I don't drive on a flat test track
  • My gasoline has 5% ethanol in it 
  • And I live in Florida! Air Conditioning is a way of life at least half the year. 

I am averaging over 40 MPG and for a car this size, I'm well ahead of the pack. I can drive 16 miles to work in the morning and use a seemingly thimble full of gas. The route I take averages 45 MPG. This morning I was able to get over 50 MPG.

But, you have to work it.   There are guages on the dashboard that help you manage the use of the 2 electric batteries on board, which recharge when you brake and from the gas engine.  You can't floor it or speed up to a stoplight and brake.  You have to essentially drive at or near the speed limit and manage your foot and the accelerator.

So now I drive more like my grandfather and see more tail lights passing me than I'm used to, but I so much am enjoying the drive, the car and the scenery.  To the best of my calculations I now arrive at my destination 5 or so minutes later than I used to.  And I'm enjoying a nice calm driving experience.

I have 2500 miles on it so far

Listen, driving a Ford Fusion Hybrid, with the Microsoft MyTouch dashboard command center and it's 8" video screen, the EV guages and the 12 speaker Sony sound system, is an amzing joy.  Having owned Lexus, Infinity & Mercedes, I must commend Ford for what they have created and if you are looking for a fuel efficient, amanzingly inexpensive, well built amazing new car, I can't recommend the Fusion Hybrid any more adamantly. 

You won't get 47 MPGs consistently, but you will love this ride!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Does your technology work like magic?

Recently I had a technology-challenged weekend and I thought I'd share some thoughts about it.

At the same time, I heard some great comments related to technology from two of tech's top thought leaders:  Jack Dorsey (Twitter & Square) and Tim O'Reilly (O'Reilly Media)  

First my technology challenges (have any of these happened to you?):

  • My Fitbit went through the washing machine (currently residing in a bag of rice to dry out)
  • While working outside in the yard, I seemlessly bluetooth-connected my iPhone to my Jawbone Jambox  and then to tried connect my iPhone to my iTunes library just inside the house through the "Sharing" function on the iPhone music app.  It wouldn't connect.
  • I took some nice pictures with my iPhone at a street concert Friday night and wanted to edit them on the device using one of my various photo apps.  I like iPhoto, but it has so many capabilities it is actually confusing and I couldn't get the photo the way I wanted it (and the software claimed it could).
  • I finally bought a wireless camera to be able to monitor the house while away.  The setup instructions and step through from the manufacturer were perfectly clear and simple.  Except, they forgot to include the one important step of connecting the camera to the computer one time.  Unbelievably, this was not included in the instructions and I had to spend 20 minutes researching on line.  Once this step was included, the camera worked perfectly and wirelessly. 

Meanwhile in an interview on CBS's 60 minutes on 3/17/13, Jack Dorsey talks about taking his staff out to the Golden Gate Bridge, which he describes as "the perfect intersection between art and engineering.  It has pure utility."  He goes on to say that his point to his colleagues "is that when people look at the bridge, they don't think about the commuters or how it functions.  They admire its simplicity and beauty and good software should work the same way".  He goes on to say (regarding software, technology, bridges) it should just work!

Tim O'Reilly,  in a recent presentation at Stanford, refers to Jack Dorsey's commerce Solution, Square, as working like magic because the app, the device and the technology leverages all the capabilities of the mobile device.   It's a great talk, primarily about mobile, exploiting the device's technology to create simplicity, and available here.

Having been involved in digital technology for most of the past 15 years and observing friends, family, and co-workers who aren't geeks, don't care to be geeks and won't invest the time into figuring out how something works, it has become clearly evident to me that the winners (today and in the future) will be the technology that "simply works" like magic.   Where one doesn't' have to think about it or invest time in it to make it works.

Here's the money quote:  (and this is true for all business, regardless of whether there is technology involved or not)   "It just has to work....every time".  
Think: 'light switch'.

So as I think about my iPhone again.  These are the apps that I don't have to think about and work "like magic" for me:

What do you think?


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Social Media's Split Personality for Franchise Sales and Development

On February 17th I will be a panelist in a day-long Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) class at the International Franchise Association's 53rd Annual Convention in Las Vegas. To prepare, I have talked to a number of Franchise Development Execs and Third-Party Social Media/Marketing Professionals over the past month and the data I've collected tends to put Social Media strategy for Franchise Recruitment into 2 camps:

1. Using social media to engage 1 on 1 with prospective franchise candidates through social media channels primarily with group discussions on LinkedIn and advertising/messaging on LinkedIn and Facebook. I didn't hear much about direct success with Twitter, G+, and the others. This is a time-consuming "needle in a haystack" type of approach that requires dedicated resources but has proven to be able to deliver franchise awards.

2. Using social media platforms as drivers back to a franchise sales BLOG and/or franchise sales website. This sounded much more like a marketing play than a "traditional" use of social media as franchisees do on the consumer side, to provide that 1 on 1 "conversation" with customers. It's simply another channel, albeit important channel, to drive eyeballs to your brand's story that really resides on other website or blog platforms.

Throughout it all, however, the common theme is that franchise candidates will access your brand's social media channels as part of their due diligence and validation, so you better keep up with it and pay attention to the content.

If you are a Franchise Development professional or industry supplier, what do you think?

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