Franchise Business Tips

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!

3 Business Moves to Regret

Business aren’t infallible. CEOs tend to make as many mistakes as any employee of a company. Some of these mistakes, though, can be rather costly. These errors in judgment may have cost companies millions–or even billions.

Google It

Years ago, Google was in trouble. They had, shockingly, arrived too late on the search engine scene, and they struggled with their competitors. So founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page began looking to sell Google to a company called Excite. And CEO George Bell, when offered Google for $750,000, said no.

Depending on how you look at it, this was a very good move for Google and a very bad move for Bell. In the following years, very, very few search engines can stand up to Google. Their name has even entered our lexicon as a synonym for “to look up.” And Excite is nowhere to be seen.

Monday Night Football

In 1970, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle came up with a weekly TV program we now know as “Monday Night Football.” He offered the chance to air weekly football games to CBS and NBC, two of the three biggest networks. But both of them balked. They didn’t dare move their popular programs, like The Doris Day Show, off of Monday night! That would be a ridiculous move!

ABC, however, didn’t think so. They took a chance on the NFL. Now, over 10 million viewers tune in on Monday Night Football. Granted, it’s now on ESPN. But for a long time ABC couldn’t help but enjoy their wins while CBS and NBC made quite the fumble.

J. C. Penny is not Apple

Ron Johnson came to J. C. Penny in 2011, hoping to breathe new life into the company. Johnson had wild success with Apple stores, and hoped to use some of those same tricks on the big chain. He began by removing the coupons and sales under the claim that these were “fake prices,” trying to be more “real” with their customer base. This would work with Apple products. But, unfortunately, J. C. Penny is not Apple.

J. C. Penny customers liked the feeling of saving money. Buying from this store, unlike Apple, is not a status symbol. People who shop at J. C. Penny generally look for deals that fit in their budgets, rather than shiny trinkets. And the younger generation wasn’t having it, either. They were going to online businesses, like Amazon.

The board swiftly discharged Johnson. Johnson still believes this model would have worked had the company kept him on. However, this is not likely, as the company’s stock has fallen by 85% since then.

 

What can we learn from these companies? One, that no business is perfect. Every company will make mistakes. Second, it’s important to learn that sometimes, risks are worth a second look. You may want to take them. Or, in the case of trying to change your model drastically, perhaps you should avoid them.

Handling Difficult Coworkers

They are present in every workplace, from the complainer to the distracting chatterbox, from the gossiper to the bully. But you must learn how to handle difficult coworkers. Leaving an annoying or bad situation to simmer can only cause further escalation and lack of productivity. Eventually, you’ll come to work miserable every day. Here’s how to deal with difficult people in your workplace.

Dealing with Coworkers

When Realizing There’s a Problem

Determine that the source of your irritation or discomfort is really another person, and if it’s that person. Is it actually something at home or in your work that you are taking out on another person’s behavior? If so, then you may need to simply ignore that coworker’s quirks or behavior while you work out what else is bothering you.

Is it actually your coworker’s behavior? Then you need to address it. Move towards fixing the situation early on. Doing so will help keep your emotional state from escalating. Difficult situations left alone may explode later, especially in the middle of a project or a deadline.

You can talk it out with a trusted friend or coworker–anyone who can be a helpful but neutral third party. This lets you explore options in an objective, rational way. Don’t just leave it at complaining or whining, especially to someone who can’t do anything about it or who wants you to do something about it. You’ll quickly become the office complainer, and your situation will likely get worse.

Tips for Speaking to Them

If your coworker’s actions prevent you from getting work done, you will need to address these issues. However, you’ll have to do it wisely so you don’t escalate your situation.

Note that you’ll have to do this in person. You can’t just leave an anonymous letter. This won’t be productive. You also can’t be passive-aggressive like leaving deodorant or body spray on a coworker’s desk as a way to inform them that their hygiene bothers you. This creates extra conflict and will make your overall problem harder to resolve.

First, take the emotion out of speaking to them. Emotion on your part may fluster you or make you say things you’ll regret. Or, just having excess and uncontrolled emotion could escalate the confrontation and make a bad situation worse.

Rehearse what you can say. Not just what you want to say, but how you can and should say it. Rehearsing will also help you stay in control of your discussion.

Use “I” language while talking. Avoid using the word “you” as much as possible, as this can feel attacking or overly defensive. The other person may not know that their behavior is affecting you so much.

Fixing the Problem

Once you’ve begun your discussion, you’ll have to address ways to fix the situation. Set boundaries for what behavior that person can use with you and what makes you uncomfortable. Focus only on the one or two worst behaviors that impact you the most. As you talk, try to come up with positive solutions together. That way, you’re not just berating and complaining at them, but showing that you want to find a solution and keep the work relationship a positive one.

Remember to be friendly and encouraging throughout. Sometimes factors like jealousy, their own personal problems, and others can affect their behavior. You’re not trying to bully them into giving you space or your way; that will also make things worse!

Didn’t Work?

Sadly, some people just don’t care. They may refuse to recognize that they have a problem, consider themselves incapable of change, or decide that you’re too negative/whiny/sensitive. If you run into one of these people, you may need to limit the time you are with them. This might require the intervention of a manager if you sit near them or must work alongside them on a project.

If the problem continues, discuss it with HR or your management.

Bullying

If you work with a bully, not just an annoying person, you may need to go to HR. This is especially true if you regularly feel intimidated, dread going near that coworker, or if you almost can’t bring yourself to come to work.

This kind of conflict resolution can make your franchise better for all involved! Remember to catch these problems early, and you’ll be fine.

Why You Should Create Subtitles on Videos

Marketers and content creators are always looking for the next big thing to help send their brand’s message. And in the last few years, it has been video. Video continues to skyrocket on all social media platforms. But for many companies, it’s not yet perfect. Why? Because they don’t use subtitles! If you don’t already, consider adding subtitles to all of your videos. Here’s why.

Deaf or Hard of Hearing Viewers

This should go without saying. You want your content to be accessible to everyone. And lip-reading is harder than you might think. Impossible, really, if your video is full of voice-overs! Rather than making Deaf or HOH viewers guess at what your actors are saying, provide subtitles or at least a summary under the video on your website.

Commuters or People at Work

On the rise of videos in social media, viewers found a new peeve: videos playing automatically, and usually at high volume. Rather than announce to everyone what they were watching, they skipped over videos quickly. Even though many platforms now have Mute as a default volume setting, scrolling past can still be a problem if you don’t have subtitles. However, adding subtitles can guarantee a higher viewer count, since people can watch them silently on their train or bus commute, or while on break.

Communicates the Message

Even if your viewers don’t eventually follow through, subtitles help get the message across more easily. Whether your audience members are auditory or visual learners or some combination, having both can reinforce the message in the video.

Multi-Lingual Videos

As companies become international and the Internet continues to grow, many social media users view videos in different languages. In the United States and Canada, a large portion of your customer base might not even speak English as a first language. Including subtitles on your videos facilitates the latter’s comprehension of your message. Plus, having subtitles means you could transport your content more easily to other countries to expand this base.

SEO

Yes, you can use subtitles for your SEO! Closed-captioning can make your videos more searchable, increasing your viewers and site traffic. Plus, you can more easily use your scripts as future content. Who wouldn’t want content made simpler?

How to Create Subtitles

Most video creation apps allow you to add subtitles right away. If the app you’re using doesn’t include this feature, you can easily add an .srt file with your subtitles. These tutorials can help you out with creating subtitles for your videos, and attach them to Facebook videos.

Make sure your text isn’t too small, or that it doesn’t form a block of text. Just include a line or two that keeps up with what the actor is saying. Even if you have to leave out a few filler words, that’s okay. Your viewers might keep on scrolling if they can’t read the text fast enough.

 

Don’t fall behind the times! Get subtitles onto your videos today, and keep your hard work accessible to all!

Get Real About How You’re Doing

Whatever our idea of “being in charge” is, chances are we picture strength. Courage. Being totally unflappable. It means never displaying weakness in order to keep the whole team strong. Right? Actually, wrong. It’s time to be a better leader by being vulnerable.

Bart Lorang, Managing Director at V1, starts every meeting by assessing how he feels. Is he calm and present, reactive and upset or just not feeling well, or somewhere in between? Checking in like this lets him get real with his team. Says Lorang, “Leaders think they have to have all of the answers, but what if instead you said ‘Team, I don’t know in this situation and I really need your help. I’m scared too.’ Now that’s courage. That’s leadership.”

Building a business is very very hard, as much as it is rewarding. Why not let yourself be honest about your venture in every way?

Be Honest With Your Team

Open up, whether at work or in life, and you’ll find people will trust you more. If you accept the ups and downs of a business publicly like this, your team will form a genuine connection. They’ll know you trust them in return.

After letting your team know your real feelings, it’s going to be easier to lean on their collective ideas and honest opinions. That way, you don’t have to carry out the search for solutions alone. You’ll have more productive and more sincere brainstorming sessions and meetings.

Be Honest With Yourself

Examine your feelings. Understand why you feel the way you do, whether you’re high on success or scared over a big risk. Then, you’ll be able to analyze solutions. Taking stock of yourself and your feelings helps you from being completely reactive and making a poor decision. It can also keep you from reacting badly to someone else on your team.

More than that, talking about your fears, especially with other people, helps lessen the anxiety. You can better face important issues head-on this way.

 

You can see more from Bart’s talk at the 2017 Propelify Innovation Festival.