Franchise Business Tips

Avoiding Offensive Advertising Blunders

We live in a world where “political correctness” can be a divisive topic for some. While you may not feel the need to coddle all of your customers in regard to your business, it will be healthier for your company if you avoid such missteps and avoid offense where you can. Doing so spares your business from negative criticism, or a potential loss if your marketing campaign fails. Here are our tips for avoiding such offensive blunders in your advertising efforts!

Get Feedback

This is probably the biggest way to stop an offensive ad or campaign from seeing the light of day. Put your slogans and product designs by multiple viewers from multiple backgrounds. Is your product or design about relationships or for women? You probably should have a woman look at it. Doing so helps avoid the problem seen in this ad.

Image result for bloomingdale eggnog ad

Bloomingdale advertisement

If this advertisement had gone past a woman for feedback, for example, it likely wouldn’t have gotten any farther. A woman (or anyone who has had to think about assault) would easily catch the implication of drugging someone to coerce them into romantic or sexual activity. Also, a woman might have noticed that the man in the advertisement doesn’t look especially friendly, and may come across as creepy. Imagine how much flak (and money!) the company could have saved themselves by letting a woman see the ad first.

Getting feedback can also help you dodge bullets with race, age, gender, and other different backgrounds. It may not matter if people from different backgrounds are on the marketing or design team; find someone in your company to give it a glance!

Do Your Research

If you have an idea that includes a joke or comment about women, gender, race, or any similar group, do your research on that group. You may miss some of the implications of stereotypes or other seemingly humorous/clever matter at first, but research could tell you if your “joke” will come across as off-color or rude.

Lose the Intentional Insults

The old adage (“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything”) is apt in all walks of life. Marketing and advertising are not exempt from this rule. You’re free to use humor, but avoid campaigns and ads that are meant to insult.

Here’s one example:

PETA ad

While it’s a memorable message, it strikes a chord for the wrong reasons. Not only does it attack viewers who are overweight; it implies anyone who is not a vegetarian is overweight, and therefore a whale.

If your message includes such an insult, or you’re told that your slogan comes across as insulting, strike it before you alienate your audience!

Keep it Clean

Burger King ad

A brief look at this ad should tell you how Burger King flubbed this campaign. This advertisement from their 2010 Singapore campaign might have been targeted for adult men. However, they neglected the rest of their audience–which includes people of all ages. Making a dirty joke like this one alienated people who either found this rude or didn’t want their kids around such ads. If your market includes people of all genders and ages, it’s going to be better not to make similar jokes or visual references. And even if your target audience would find this funny, be aware that suggestive ads like this will make their way around the Internet, and you may suffer backlash.

 

Some say that any publicity is good publicity. But when it comes to our social media-driven world and the power of the dollar, that’s not always the case. Spare yourself the waste of money and the need to apologize or pull an advertisement. It’s better not to do it in the first place.

The Cons of an Open Office Floor Plan

Despite all the pros, open office floor plans aren’t for everyone. Though trends suggest it’s good for Millennials, it doesn’t even work for that entire age group (which covers people born in the 1980s to the 1990s). Consider carefully before you switch your office over! If you are set on an open office plan, we also provide some suggestions to make the transition smooth and your office feel happy.

Lack of Privacy

The first thing you’ll lose in an open office is privacy. While this sounds like a great thing for supervisors who want to make sure that their team members are staying on task, it may diminish effectiveness for some. There are employees who thrive with some privacy who, if their walls are removed, will falter and become far less productive.

Open floor plans also make some tasks more difficult. For example, if your business requires everyone to make plenty of phone calls through the day, such as in customer service or sales. Phone calls–especially if they’re taking place on top of each other–might be difficult to conduct in a professional manner.

Private spaces for business calls in such an environment then become essential. Make sure that if your business requires work like this that you have adequate space to allow everyone to work. Also, try to provide private booths or rooms for phone calls.

Distractions

While having an open floor plan reduces the likelihood that employees will waste time, it also actually increases distractions. The chances go up for employees to get distracted talking to one another. And this can be difficult to enforce, especially since one of the goals of an open-plan office is to increase communication and cooperation.

It’s also possible that even a dedicated employee could lose focus. Phone calls and other conversations can divide attention whether or not a person is participating. Annoying little habits become more prominent, which might cause tension or distraction.

To stay productive, your employees will have to get creative to shut out distractions. Encourage consideration of others in your office, and enforce your standards. Try holding good communication training to help your employees practice peaceful resolution to issues that might be distracting them.

Stress

With the decrease in productivity and increase in distractions, your employees will have more stress on their plates. Accomplishing projects may be more difficult, especially within tight deadlines. As with the above example, it might cause problems with placing calls or meeting with clients in a space with little privacy.

Plus, there are always those employees who will do better with privacy–both from their peers and from their superiors. These aren’t the ones who goof off; they’re just the ones who do better knuckling down and getting work done. If these are your best team members, knocking down the walls could make working harder for them.

If this situation might affect your work space, but you want an open floor plan, consider a hybrid office. You might combine an open plan with separate spaces–not quite cubicles, but something that feels a little more enclosed. Or, give those employees who require a separate space a seating arrangement that better suits their ability to get work done.

Contagion

Flu and cold season can be hard enough to fight as it is! However, open offices make it harder. Without walls to keep germs from coughs and sneezes in, bacteria and viruses spread fast. And while your employees may practice good etiquette by coughing into elbows or tissues, it’s still not as effective as a separate space that can be sanitized.

Fight contagion in your office by providing more sick days and encouraging team members with colds to work from home to keep sickness from spreading. Keep the area clean as well, and provide tissues and hand sanitizer.

 

An open floor plan, despite its cons, might still be worth the effort! Are you willing to give this change of scene a try in your business?

The Pros of an Open Office Floor Plan

Many companies, as time goes on, soon feel that they need to inject new life into their workforce. Business that have been around for years are beginning to move toward one trend in particular: open office floor plans. But is this really worth it for your business? This week, we’re providing a list of pros that might help you decide if an open floor plan is the right move for your office space!

Pros

Social Interaction

Communication and cooperation as team members increase when you break down the cubicle walls. It’s easy for a supervisor or team member to pass on an assignment or see how one another is doing this way.

And, unlike traditional layouts that have offices, open floor plans remove barriers between employees and supervisors. This also makes for easier communication between the two groups, and helps diminish the feeling that one member of a team is “above” or “separate.”

Flexibility

One of the downsides of using cubicles is that they’re difficult to work with if you need to shake things up. Need to hire more people? You’d better hope you have enough open desks to fit your hiring needs.

However, in an open-office plan, it’s easy to rearrange depending on the numbers of your staff. An open-office plan can fit more employees as well, possibly making your work floor more cost-effective. You can also change around the setup should you need to alter a seating chart, move a team, or simply try something that works better.

Visual Appeal

In general, open office plans look nicer than cubicle farms. By opting for this setup, you’ll introduce cleaner lines, better lighting, and the possibility for more color onto your work floor. There’s more room to breathe, which could be vital for a creative team. And, if your workspace allows it, you’ll allow your employees to be able to show their individuality to the entire office, rather than just to the walls of their cubicle.

 

Do you think an open-office floor plan is perfect for you and your business? It might just be! Stay tuned for next week, when we will examine some of the drawbacks of an open-office plan!

3 Digital Media Solutions to Enhance Your Print Marketing

Digital marketing goes hand-in-hand with postcard marketing. At Divvy, we’ve always said that your marketing and advertising efforts will be stronger when you combine the two. They are incredibly powerful on their own, so imagine what you can accomplish with both!

Actually, you don’t have to imagine much longer. Here are three trends we think are most helpful for your digital and print marketing efforts.

ONLINE FOLLOW-UP

Once someone has read your postcard, and had a positive response to it, they’ll visit your website. And, unfortunately for your ROI, that’s where it ends. Google Analytics reports that 96% of browsing people will leave a website without taking action if they’re visiting for the first time.

That doesn’t do much for your business, does it?

Digital marketing, however, helps your postcard retain its original effectiveness when you use follow-up. You can advertise to your intended clients across Google and other browsers by using cookies. Your customers will keep seeing reminders about your products until they’re ready to come back and buy something from you.

SOCIAL MEDIA FOLLOW-UP

Much like the above, you can reach out on social media to make sure visitors to your site keep coming back. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest all allow advertising, which you can use for specific customers if they’ve looked at your site before. And since we’re on social media so many hours of the day, this is bound to be effective.

MAIL TRACKING

Wouldn’t it be nice to know roughly when your clients will be picking up their mail and seeing your postcard? You would be able to plan for phone calls wanting more information, targeted social media posts reinforcing that data, and more.

With mail tracking, you can do these things! Implementing such a feature into your system would let you see when mail is scheduled to arrive in mailboxes. You can better be able to staff customer service representatives at that time, plan on social media, and engage with the campaign.

 

These trends are most effective because of the way they combine social media and internet browsing to your print on both ends. It’s difficult to try just digital or print on its own. Keep on top of tracking and reminder systems by using these trends, and you’ll see your postcards pay off!

Improving Your Direct Mail Pieces

If you’re not using direct mail for your campaigns, you’re missing out! Direct mail has a large ROI, and recipients of all ages–even Millennials–love it! If you are using direct mail, but you feel that it needs some enhancement to be even more effective, Divvy can help! Here are our tips for improving your mail pieces.

Heavier Weight Paper

Giving your paper a heavier weight immediately increases the quality of your piece. And quality is vital on direct mail pieces. Print marketing is all about sense, after all. If you skimp on this, you might lose out on potential business.

Related: What’s So Special About Direct Mail?

If the piece you’re creating is for a high-end product or business, heavy weight paper and texture is essential. Your direct mail piece must convey luxury, which lends credibility to the idea that the product is, too.

Shape

It’s easy to go with a typical postcard shape and style for a direct mail piece. It’s low-effort and easy to duplicate. However, that’s also one of its drawbacks. Going with a static shape can grow stale with your customer base. If they receive a lot of direct mail, they might miss yours among the others.

Try creating direct mail pieces that you can unfold to view more information. Interaction with the piece increases engagement and memory, which translates into increased customer loyalty and sales. Plus, with a fold, you can use more information on only one piece!

Related: 20 Creative Direct Mail Marketing Pieces

Personalization

Your clients and customers like to feel important. Everyone does! You can use that with your direct mail to make a stronger connection and build trust between them and your company.

Using variable data technology, Divvy can put addresses, names, appointment dates, and even personalized messages on individual mail pieces. And we can do it without hassle! This makes it easier to send mail with a better, more personal message–which will get you a better response from your clients.

 

Curious about how Divvy can help you enhance your direct mail pieces? Want us to help you automate and ship them? Just fill out the contact form below! You’ll find there’s nothing we can’t do with a direct mail piece.

Common Outdoor Signage Mistakes

Designing for the great outdoors–like on the outside of your building or near a freeway–is very different from the design on interior signage. Because of the difference, sometimes designers and businesses make some crucial mistakes. They forget to account for the fact that these designs are outdoors. And because of that, their marketing efforts go to waste. Here are some big mistakes you can avoid making when you create outdoor signage.

4. Sticky Fingers and Vandals

Depending on your area or how long you need to leave up your signs, you may need to add security measures. Many signs become subject to graffiti or vandalization. While you can’t prevent all vandals (think of graffiti under bridges!), you can make your signs easier to clean. Use a laminate to make spray paint come off easily.

3. Even Signs Need Sunscreen

Just as the sun can damage your skin without sunscreen, it can ruin your signs! Outdoor signs need UV-resistant inks to keep from fading. If your design won’t be outside longer than a day, you can continue using water-based inks. However, if you intend long-term marketing, you need those special inks!

2. Weather? What Weather?

Similarly, some printers or designers forget to create signs to be weather-proof! It’s obvious that paper and paper substrates won’t stand up in a rainstorm. But that’s not the only thing to consider. For example, some inks might suffer under moisture. Your sign itself might be vulnerable to extreme temperatures, melting or cracking under certain kinds of weather. Or, a powerful storm might carry away a banner or break a hard sign in two. Again, if you need your sign to be outside for more than a day, create it to survive the weather–whatever that may be.

1. Indoor vs. Outdoor Design

Outdoor signage needs to be seen from a distance. Especially if your target audience is driving, you have to get your message across quickly. Not everyone will have time or the inclination to come up close and read dozens of words on your banner. Plus, a driver trying to catch a complicated message on your billboard or banner can become a distracted danger on the road in seconds.

Make sure your words are few and very large. Not only that, make sure someone can easily read them in a hurry. Don’t use difficult-to-read fonts or complex ideas. If you can, let a picture and a brief tagline speak for you.

 

When it comes to marketing for your business, Divvy can create signage on a wide variety of substrates meant to withstand the great outdoors. You’ll successfully promote your business or event in any weather!

5 Manager Mistakes (That Make Good Employees Quit)

Few things do as much damage to your business as good employees leaving. And few things can chase away an employee as effectively as a bad manager. Research has proven that up to 70% of employee motivation depends on the manager. Hold your managers accountable, and keep good workers from leaving before they put in their notice!

Overworking

Employees burn out fast once you start overworking them. But it’s a tempting trap for managers to fall into because, to them, surely there’s some way to get more work out of good employees. The problem is, if you’re going to increase the amount of work or the time someone must work, you must balance this with status changes. Give them a raise, promotion, or a title change if you must work them harder.

Lack of Empathy

Another reason employees burn out fast is when they don’t feel understood, particularly when there’s a difficulty affecting performance at work or home. This could be another coworker who makes it difficult to focus or to accomplish a project; or a too-heavy workload. Managers should be able to empathize with their team and to help members achieve their goals. However, a manager who fails at this will always have a higher turnover rate. Team members can’t work for someone who sees them as cogs, rather than people.

No Feedback

Employees, especially Millennials, desire recognition. That doesn’t mean a gold star for every task, but it does mean acknowledging work done, progress made, and goals achieved. It also means open communication between a manager and a team member to see where an employee can improve. Managers who prefer to fly solo may tend to ignore their team. In consequence, their team members may feel frustrated at the lack of feedback over both positive accomplishments and problems they struggle to solve. If they have a manager like this, they’ll look elsewhere to get feedback.

Stagnation and Inattention

It’s often healthy for employees to be able to manage themselves. But if they have absolutely no support structure, they will flounder. It is the duty of a good manager to manage, and that includes finding ways to help team members grow. Managing requires feedback to employees, challenging them when necessary, and helping them see the big picture. Without this, employees will feel that they’re in a dead-end job and leave.

Stifling Intellect or Creativity

Passionate and talented employees get a lot more done. But some managers may refuse to let their employees use their innate creativity to improve a process, workplace, or project. This sounds like a good idea to everyone, right? These managers may feel threatened if someone breaks limits in this way. This insecurity is a sign of a poor manager willing to limit those around him or her rather than let others succeed.

Finally, a bad boss stifles the opportunity to grow intellectually. People want to improve themselves, or at least they should. Successful bosses and managers make people get out of their comfort zones (in a good way) by setting high goals. Then, most importantly, they reach out to help their team succeed. A poor manager won’t challenge their team, leaving employees bored and looking for a challenge elsewhere.

 

Don’t let your managers chase away good employees! Make sure your managers are working to build better teams, and you’ll see greater success through your whole company.

Why Star Players Make Bad Managers

When an employee performs extremely well, earning plenty for your company, it may be tempting to promote them to manager. After all, they might encourage others to succeed, right? However, a recent study by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that maybe you shouldn’t.

A Bad Boss in the Making

In order to move up the pay ladder in most companies, generally a person must be promoted to management positions. And the role of manager seems like the perfect reward for that one great employee. It comes with higher pay, greater responsibility to help that person grow, and more perks. And, some employers may hope, one high-flying team member can share those skills with a whole group, increasing productivity overall.

However, not everyone excels at managing other people. Sometimes that star employee is good at leading a team for just a short time, but you may see a decline in performance if they take over long-term. Also, though they may be able to make friends and work together, they may not show the empathy and desire to help others that is essential for a manager.

Should you end up with a person like this in a management position, you may find you’ve got a manager who dislikes their team, neglects the other employees, and/or is clueless about how to take a group in the right direction. Trust between members of a department may fall, and productivity certainly will. That seemingly great reward, in the end, will cost your business.

What to Do Instead

Want to promote someone to manager? Don’t do it based only on their closed deals or their productivity. Find out who has the drive for their whole team to succeed. Learn who would be helpful, rather than potentially harmful, in a conflict or when an employee is under stress. This kind of person may not be your star employee, but they may make a great manager. That same study found employees and sales thrived under managers who weren’t the top performers.

Along with promoting the right people, rather than just the best salesmen, you may want to examine the structure of your business. Help your company grow a professional career path, not just a managerial stream. Employees have a wide variety of skills that your company can benefit from. Provide more opportunities for motion and growth for those who do well but aren’t suited to become managers. This will help the right people become managers and everyone else stay invested in helping your company grow. And that, we all know, is vital to the longevity of a company, not just star players.

3 Reasons Why Employees Quit

Perhaps your business requires your employees to work overtime, or to take on a lot of projects. This alone isn’t enough to quit, for most employees. However, if you fail to treat your employees right–whatever their workload–you’ll find them jumping ship. If they stay, they might refuse to go the extra mile in customer service or innovation. Worst of all, they might tell other potential hires to avoid your business! Learn what makes good employees quit, and fix your workplace before it’s too late!

Lack of Appreciation

It’s not just about pay that makes employees leave. The people in your business will want to know that they’re doing something right, and they want you to tell them. You should point out problematic behaviors; however, don’t only focus on their flaws. Find reasons to praise the people who work for you and your business. Recognition and appreciation (and possibly rewards) will go a long way towards boosting their morale and keeping them in your business.

Related: Motivating with More than Money

Feelings of Pointlessness

Especially among Millennials–your 20- and 30-somethings–employees like to feel as if they’re making a difference. They like to measure their progress, feel that they’re making an impact, and feel worthwhile. However, if your business doesn’t treat them as if they make a difference, that they’re a replaceable cog, they’ll leave.

Customers First, Employees Second

We understand that customers are the reason we stay in business! Obviously, your policies and marketing should draw in consumers and make them feel appreciated. However, you should not do this at the expense of your employees! If your employees constantly feel like doormats or punching bags for customers, chances are they won’t stay long-term. And employees make your company grow! If you make them feel valued and like they have a voice, they’ll take care of your customers.

If you want your business to succeed long-term, treat your employees like they matter to your company. You’ll see lower turnover rates, higher productivity, and a renewed commitment to making your business grow.

4 Franchise and Business Strategies

Before you start up your franchise, you need to put considerable thought into your business strategy. What works for one business might destroy another. So, every franchise will need its own unique strategy. While we can’t tell you how to run your business specifically, we do have some excellent business strategies you might consider putting into practice for your franchise.

Build near your consumers

People will shop close to where they live. And they may not live very close to shopping centers. Big stores in the business districts may be profitable, but they shouldn’t be your only source. In a more time- and environmentally-conscious world, people want to walk or bike to stores and restaurants, or at least take shorter, more efficient drives. They want the convenience of places like Starbucks. Don’t make them travel further than they want to, especially if that’s one of the core issues with your current strategy. Otherwise, with the Amazon giant looming overhead and offering lower prices, consumers might just shop online.

Get involved in your community

Ask yourself, “How could my location/business be an asset to the community?” Go get involved and find out how your business can sponsor a team, host an event, or give back. You’ll spread your name via word-of-mouth, especially if you partner with another business. In doing so, you can combine customer bases and attract new buyers.

Interact with your customers

Whether it’s replying to questions in a timely manner or playfully roasting your competitors like Wendy’s does, your business relies on customer interaction. This isn’t just to make sales; you need to engage your customer base regularly. And, on top of that, you need a genuine voice that fits your brand, not just a “salesman” voice. Though that’s your end goal, making it only about sales will drive off customers who see this behavior as insincere.

Be flexible

Is a strategy not working out for your business? Then don’t force it! Let go of strategies that cost you money and customers. And you don’t have to wait until the end of the fiscal year to do it! Come up with something better right away. You’ll spare your business and brand potential damage.

 

What strategies have you found for your business? What worked, and what didn’t? We’d be happy to hear from you!