The 7 PR Tips Every Start-up Should Understand

With 25 to 40 start-ups in the United States valued at $1 billion or more, and an estimated 476,000 new businesses hitting the scene in 2013 alone, PR is becoming an even more important piece of the success puzzle. Competition is heating up, and there’s no signs of it slowing down anytime soon – so understanding how to handle PR from the beginning will start your business off on the right foot.

Preparation is Key


While it is easy to get excited about a new venture, don’t engage in any PR tactics until the product or service is ready for it. If it’s not the absolute best it can be, you’ll run into issues with a lack of press coverage, or worse, negative press that can be difficult to impossible for a start-up to overcome.

Build and Establish a Brand Identity


Who are you? How are you different from the competition? What are your values? Answer those questions, and create a brand identity that encompasses all of that. If you can’t figure it out alone, enlist the help of others. Creating a consistent message across your brand identity everywhere your brand can be found is critical to building brand recognition and brand loyalty.

Craft the Story


To capture the attention of the press, investors, and customers, you must tell your story. Everyone will want to know more about you, where you came from, and how the idea for your company was born. Craft the narrative to help people learn more about you – and do it in such a way that it makes you hard to forget. Write as though every word could be a sound byte for a media plug. If you need help, hire a professional writer. Share the story across all platforms – anywhere your brand is active. Keep it consistent with your brand message and identity.

Stay Visible at the Top of the Corporate Ladder


Your CEO can’t hide. Make sure the CEO is visible everywhere and transparent about his or her involvement in your company. Your CEO needs a presence on social media channels and needs to be the face of your company with the media. As such, make sure the CEO works to build positive relationships with members of the press, and can share your story impeccably.

Embrace Social Media


Include a social media plan in your start-up plans from the beginning. Social media will play a large role in your ability to reach, engage, and grow your audience. You don’t have to be on all social media platforms – but you should definitely be where your target audience is. This is the place where you can share your story, make your CEO visible, and establish your credibility.

Proofread, Edit, and Research


It’s far easier to avoid a meltdown than to do damage control after the fact. Take for instance when Digiorno®’s hopped on the hashtag bandwagon with #WhyIStayed. The domestic violence awareness hashtag was trending, so without a second thought, Digiorno’s tried to capitalize on it. Quick to rectify the issue – the whole thing could have been avoided with a few minutes of research to find out what the hashtag was about before posting such an offensive tweet. If such a major brand can make that kind of blunder, start-ups can too!

Proofread, edit, and research all your content. Fact check anything you’re sharing whether it originates with you or not. Taking a few minutes to think and ensure that’s the message you want to send before you push the “post” button may seem like a hassle, but in the end it could save hundreds of man hours of work cleaning up a mess.

Get Help If and When You Need It


It’s impossible for one person, or even a small team of people to do everything it takes to get a start-up up and running. It’s okay to need help – and if no one on the team is particularly experienced in PR, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a professional. Skimping on PR can backfire and do a great deal of harm to your business, while hiring a professional ensures you’re putting your best foot forward at all times.

You don’t have to be a PR pro to get the right press for your start-up, but you do need to be prepared – and have a plan in place. Behind any great business is a great PR team.

 

About the Author : Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi

Jamshaid-Jam-Hashmi-200x200A serial entrepreneur with extensive background in franchising and interests in multiple online business channels, Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi has played an instrumental role in the franchise development and success of an international franchise company. His most recent entrepreneurial interests include launching ClickTecs, a Digital Marketing company specializing in Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing as well as Website and Mobile Application development. In 2007 he co-founded Search Result, an online marketing company that supplies services to Internet Marketing Consultants. A sought after public speaker, Jam has been the featured keynote at many franchise conferences and international summits. He regularly trains ‘C’ Level Executives and supports both new and seasoned business owners on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Optimization, Mobile Marketing, Brand Reputation Management and Conversion & Measurement through web analytics. When he’s not scaling the heights of the Internet world, Jam ‘unwinds’ on extreme thrill-seeking adventures from the jungles of the Amazon to the highest summits. His passions include working with NGOs on humanitarian missions to areas around the world affected by disasters and poverty.

Back
Is SEO a Safe Investment to Market Your Franchise Business Online?

A franchised business grants a business owner the right to use a license to market products or services in a certain area. The franchise license typically governs marketing, including: the offers and promotions, web design, graphics, and other things associated with the business. However, most franchising agreements allow for customization of certain aspects, such as pricing, specific to the local area. Some franchise licensing agreements may require the franchisee to contribute up to 3% of sales into a national marketing fund to help cover the cost of an online presence. While this approach helps keep the marketing funds flowing for the entire brand, it doesn’t really do much for the local owners who need customers coming in the door.

In terms of search engine optimization (SEO), franchisees are competing for the same terms, except for on the local level. SEO can still be a safe investment to market your franchise business online, however the strategy you use makes all of the difference. Using information from Google® employee Matt Cutts, and the frozen yogurt franchise business Pinkberry® as a guide, we know the best way to handle franchise search engine optimization is to treat each location as a micro website rather than a landing page. Why?

 

Each Franchise Location Has Unique Content

There is a very real duplicate content issue across all microsites that are controlled by a franchisor.  Therefore, in order to not appear spammy in the search engines, correct canonical urls need to be set up to tell Google which content to index. When each store is allowed to have its own unique content, it definitely avoids the duplicate content issue, and keeps the content fresh for customers. This is particularly helpful in the case of several franchise locations in a single geographic area.

 

Each Franchise Location Gets a Unique Social Media Identity

Every store should have its own social identity, especially in markets where there are multiple locations. This helps the franchisee create an identity, and will also help the franchisor create multiple listings on a search engine results page. This approach is definitely a great way for franchisors to get an edge on the competition.

Location specific URLs in your social media profiles can help customers in terms of usability. Customers do not like to spend more time than necessary locating specific information, so sending them to the main page and forcing them to find information specific to a franchise location can be frustrating. In fact, according to Nielsen Norman Group, users typically leave a webpage within 10 to 20 seconds, unless there is a clear value proposition to hold them there longer.

 

Each Franchise Location Needs Locally Targeted Marketing

The franchisors are typically more interested in brand marketing. They want to grow brand recognition to sell more locations. The franchisees, however, need locally relevant and targeted content. As such, main keyword phrases for the brand itself do not do much, if anything at all, to help grow the local retail store. Using a locally targeted marketing approach with the help of things like Google Places, gives specific locations a boost in the search engine results pages. Other search engines, such as Bing® and Yahoo® have similar products to help business owners with local search engine optimization and marketing strategies, as well.

As a franchise owner, it is important to remember that your SEO strategy will still require the basics of link building, social media promotion, and landing page optimization. Though they are no different than any other SEO strategy requirement, the way you implement them will obviously be different than a non-franchised business.

No matter what SEO strategies you use to market your business online, always make sure they are in line with what is allowed by the terms of your franchise agreement and in line with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. If you are unsure, always consult with the franchisor. To improve your search engine ranking, consider investing in a technical SEO audit to find any concerns with your franchise website. The audit will help you determine a plan of action to fix any errors. From there, you can develop a new strategy based on what the audit and your market reveals.

About the Author : Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi

Jamshaid-Jam-Hashmi-200x200A serial entrepreneur with extensive background in franchising and interests in multiple online business channels, Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi has played an instrumental role in the franchise development and success of an international franchise company. His most recent entrepreneurial interests include launching ClickTecs, a Digital Marketing company specializing in Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing as well as Website and Mobile Application development. In 2007 he co-founded Search Result, an online marketing company that supplies services to Internet Marketing Consultants. A sought after public speaker, Jam has been the featured keynote at many franchise conferences and international summits. He regularly trains ‘C’ Level Executives and supports both new and seasoned business owners on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Optimization, Mobile Marketing, Brand Reputation Management and Conversion & Measurement through web analytics. When he’s not scaling the heights of the Internet world, Jam ‘unwinds’ on extreme thrill-seeking adventures from the jungles of the Amazon to the highest summits. His passions include working with NGOs on humanitarian missions to areas around the world affected by disasters and poverty.

Back
Importance of Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Devices

Importance of Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Devices

About the Author : Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi

Jamshaid-Jam-Hashmi-200x200A serial entrepreneur with extensive background in franchising and interests in multiple online business channels, Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi has played an instrumental role in the franchise development and success of an international franchise company. His most recent entrepreneurial interests include launching ClickTecs, a Digital Marketing company specializing in Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing as well as Website and Mobile Application development. In 2007 he co-founded Search Result, an online marketing company that supplies services to Internet Marketing Consultants. A sought after public speaker, Jam has been the featured keynote at many franchise conferences and international summits. He regularly trains ‘C’ Level Executives and supports both new and seasoned business owners on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Optimization, Mobile Marketing, Brand Reputation Management and Conversion & Measurement through web analytics. When he’s not scaling the heights of the Internet world, Jam ‘unwinds’ on extreme thrill-seeking adventures from the jungles of the Amazon to the highest summits. His passions include working with NGOs on humanitarian missions to areas around the world affected by disasters and poverty.

Back
How to Plan a Successful Inbound-Marketing Strategy for Franchises

Savvy business owners, franchisors included, are turning to the Internet and social media to strengthen marketing and branding campaigns. The end goal of course is to increase lead generation and sales at the local level, as well as create brand awareness. However, it is nearly impossible to do this effectively without franchisee participation and support. As franchisees are already looking for ways to market their businesses online, and franchisors must ensure compliance in terms of regulation and branding, local online marketing must be approached with care.

As a franchisee, you have limited control over your online presence to limit the risk of compliance issues for the franchisor. However, your franchise agreement likely does leave some room for you to craft your own inbound marketing strategy that will not only produce the results you are looking for, but also maintain compliance with the terms of your franchise agreement.

Determine the End Goals

Before you can develop a plan of action, it is necessary to understand what you are attempting to accomplish. Create a plan you can update as you go. You do not necessarily have to invest in outside help, but make sure to get answers to important questions such as:

  •  What types of content is my target audience interested in?
  •  Where can I find my ideal customers online?
  •  What am I trying to accomplish?
  •  What metrics can I track to see how successful my efforts are?

Focus on Lead Generation

Your franchise needs qualified leads more than anything else. Chances are, you have a local website for your location. Talk with your franchisor to determine what you can do to the website yourself, and learn more about how to manage it on your own. Make sure the content is locally relevant and unique to the area as well as unique to what you would find on other franchise and oriented websites. Make sure the content focuses on clear calls to action. If you fail to address these issues, you will have a much more difficult time building traffic and converting leads into paying customers.

Register Your Business with Local Directories

Local directories such as Google Places, Bing®, Yelp®, and Yahoo® can help boost your local franchises website in the search engine results pages. The inbound links to your website from these trusted traffic sources will not only help boost your overall search engine ranking, but will also help your customers find you. Many people search these directories to find a variety of things. Plus, because they are typically free for you as the business owner, there is no reason to avoid them.

Harness the Power of Analytics

Analytics tools will help you find out more about what your website users are doing when they visit your website. You can find out a variety of details including: how long someone spends on a page, where they came to the page from, the keywords being used to locate your website, where they are clicking on the web page, etc. All of this information can be used to determine the successes and failures of your inbound marketing approach. When something is going well, you know what to keep doing. If you notice something is not going as well as intended, you can take the necessary steps to adjust your marketing strategy to change the results.

Optimize Conversion Rates

Your conversion rate is the proportion of website visitors that turn into paying customers. The higher your conversion rate, the better. Optimizing your conversion rate doesn’t always have a clear-cut plan of action, but here are some things to review:

  •  Do you have a clear, easily located, call to action (CTA)?
  •  Is your site user friendly?
  •  Are your websites’ graphics relevant, and well-placed?
  •  Are your search engine optimization tactics working?

Adjust Marketing Strategies as Needed

If you found a great marketing strategy, use it as long as you possibly can. However, just because something works now, does not mean it will work forever. Keep an eye on those analytics, and make adjustments to your marketing strategy when needed to ensure you have a consistent flow of new and repeat customers to generate revenue for your business.

As a franchise owner, take advantage of any corporate marketing dollars that are available to you. If you are not ready doing this, you are missing out on the chance to grow your local franchise. These funds are basically free money from your franchisor dedicated to marketing and growing your business in your local area. You can use these dollars to build your inbound-marketing strategy, and you should be. These dollars can also be used to reach out to marketing specialists, as approved by your franchise agreement, to help you succeed.

 

About the Author : Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi

Jamshaid-Jam-Hashmi-200x200A serial entrepreneur with extensive background in franchising and interests in multiple online business channels, Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi has played an instrumental role in the franchise development and success of an international franchise company. His most recent entrepreneurial interests include launching ClickTecs, a Digital Marketing company specializing in Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing as well as Website and Mobile Application development. In 2007 he co-founded Search Result, an online marketing company that supplies services to Internet Marketing Consultants. A sought after public speaker, Jam has been the featured keynote at many franchise conferences and international summits. He regularly trains ‘C’ Level Executives and supports both new and seasoned business owners on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Optimization, Mobile Marketing, Brand Reputation Management and Conversion & Measurement through web analytics. When he’s not scaling the heights of the Internet world, Jam ‘unwinds’ on extreme thrill-seeking adventures from the jungles of the Amazon to the highest summits. His passions include working with NGOs on humanitarian missions to areas around the world affected by disasters and poverty.

Back