Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Bill C-28 – Are you an Inadvertent Spammer?

September 7th, 2011

InadvertantSpammerAre you a spammer?

Most companies will answer ‘of course not!‘.  But are you aware of Bill C-28 and the implications it may have for your business – particularly your sales and marketing processes?  There are a lot of good articles online aboutmarketing compliance for email marketing and newsletters, but it’s important not to forget that your sales processes may be affected as well – certainly if you do cold calling to potential prospects.  Here is the skinny to help you avoid being an inadvertent spammer.


Bill C-58 is specific to ‘commercial messages’ – according to some, this does not apply to other types of email messages that are purely transactional or provide information requested by the recipient or in follow-up to a transaction that has occured.  I would love to know if downloading a white paper or other document from a website is considered a transaction for these purposes – if so, the value of content downloads would be reinforced as part of a marketing program.

Basically any company that sends commercial messages needs to be aware of the regulations and evaluate the impact on their processes and how they will ensure compliance


For example, When you are developing sales processes, do you have a cold-calling process where you then follow up by email?  If so, you want to be very aware of the new regulations coming in, and of the contents of Bill C-28.  The penalties are stiff.  Individuals can face fines of up to $1 million, while businesses face penalties of up to $10 million per violation.


If you use emails for prospecting, make sure that you either have consent (this can include such things as the prospect having given you their business card or email address, or having published their email address without a statement saying that they do not wish to received unsolicited commercial electronic messages) or that you have an existing business relationship with the customer.

You also need to ensure that your emails include contact information of the sender (including company name, contact name, address and phone number) and a clear and easy way to unsubscribe.


One of the key questions about Bill C-28 is when it will come into effect.  The deadline for comments on the draft legislation is September 7th, 2011.  The implementation will likely follow relatively quickly afterwards (i.e. late 2011 or early 2012).


Industry Canada has a Q & A page about Bill C-28 that outlines some common questions and answers, but it doesn’t have a lot of detail about how this affects your business.  Check it out for a basic grounding in what the bill covers.

You can find the Industry Canada draft regulations online to read all the details for yourself.

At Open Box, we have always done our best to follow best practices for all newsletters we send out, but after a review of these regulations, we are updating our signatures to include more detailed information (i.e. our address – we used to just have a link to our website), as well as ensuring that all emails to any type of prospect or new connection we have met include an ‘unsubscribe’ link that will flow through to our customer relationship systems.

Best Practices, Communication, Marketing

One Simple Tip to Increase Sales Volume

May 10th, 2011

Reduce the number of choices you offer your customers.

Sound too simplistic?  In a way it is, but what matters more is that it works.

People faced with too many choices will be drawn and interested, but less likely to buy.

There have been some fascinating studies on this topic, starting with Sheena Iyengar and her jam experiment at Draeger’s.  For all the details, read her publications (links below) or watch her Ted talk (broader than this one question – she branches into the question of whether choices are linked to upbringing and culture – but fascinating) or check out her telling her story about this experiment and what led to it.

In short, she set up an experiment where people had either 24 choices of types of jam, or 6 choices.

The findings were that the 24 choices drew more people to look at the options, but actually led to fewer sales.

6 choices made it easier for people to make a selection and actually complete the purchase.

I know which one I prefer :)

To quote Sheena Iyengar, “they were actually less likely to make a choice if they had more to choose from than if they had fewer to choose from.”

Psychology Driving Business Growth

I’m fascinated by how psychology & the knowledge of psychologists can help drive business growth.  It’s not actually surprising – what we as people chose to do and buy and be is rooted in our brains – but it’s easy to think of psychology as a slightly wishy-washy ‘how do we feel’ science.  Where the real value comes in is the data driven research that helps us learn about how people behave and how we are wired – that will all tie in to helping drive business success.

For those who want do want more choices, here are some other fascinating links:

Related to Sheena Iyengar & the jam experiment:

Other useful articles online referencing this study or other similar ones and drawing additional conclusions:

Interesting (and useful) psychology links:

Have you ever tried this?  What psychological insights have helped grow your business?

Best Practices, Business Growth, Communication, Marketing, Tips

Franchise Candidates: A Changing Mindset

April 15th, 2011

caution-01I was reading some interesting articles online lately and this one by Paul Segreto stood out because it gives a realistic impression of Franchise Candidates’ changing needs and perspectives. Paul as always, kindly, agreed to let me post it here (it’s from a while ago, but just getting more true with time).

By Paul Segreto
A look at today’s franchise candidates will reveal they are more sophisticated, better educated, and more technologically advanced than ever before. In addition, and even more so because of the economic downturn, they are extremely cautious.

Today’s candidates are spending more time researching opportunities, and doing so at a much slower pace. In order to be diligent in the process, more time is spent online pouring through page after page of information, constantly bookmarking, and moving back and forth from new information to saved information. They’re comparing notes with other franchise candidates on social networking sites. As well, they’re gaining invaluable insight monitoring online discussion groups and forums.

Ultimately, today’s franchise candidate desires, needs, to be certain the franchise opportunity is as close to perfect for his or her situation, as humanly possible. In the past, and especially after previous recessions, franchise candidates took their capital gains and invested in a franchise opportunity. Many times leaving the principal investment untouched. There was a sense of throwing caution to the wind because they were investing profits. Many times ungodly profits, at least by today’s standards. Does anyone remember when money markets kicked out 17% profit margins?

Unfortunately, many individuals looking at franchise opportunities today are looking at things differently. They have to. Many are transitioning corporate executives staring at the back end of illustrious careers trying to squeak out just ten more years before retirement. Facing the challenge of younger talent, new technology, and a rapidly changing business environment, many opt to “buy” a job and explore franchising and small business ownership.

What Changed?

Here’s the difference between today’s recession, and of those in the past. As huge fortunes have been lost, and large gains have not been realized in current financial markets, today’s candidates are forced to invest all or part of their remaining nest egg in order to enter the world of business ownership. Of course, everyone knows and fully understand the risks involved in owning a business. But in yesterday’s business environment, many franchisees and business owners were “gambling” with profits.

Certainly, no one wanted to lose money in a business venture. But, many had fallback positions with funds still in retirement accounts and of course, if they had to, employment. For many of today’s candidates, failure is not an option because fallback opportunities are fast becoming non-existent. Actually, I believe many of today’s candidates might not have even considered franchise or small business ownership in the past.

So, as many individuals explore their options, they will focus more and more of their efforts online. Franchisors must embrace this fact, and dedicate more resources to the internet and look to social media to complement, not replace, their traditional franchise marketing strategies. By doing so, they’ll realize multiple benefits for their entire system including:

- Creating or further developing brand awareness with franchise candidates and consumers alike
- Generating franchise leads that are genuinely interested in exploring what franchising and small business ownership has to offer, and how a particular concept may be the vehicle to achieve their goals and objectives
- Establishing an interactive environment of communications and information sharing that will become the backbone of future franchise relationships throughout franchise systems

Last, it used to be that many franchise candidates viewed franchising and small business ownership as a way of achieving their wishes, hopes and dreams, regardless of what they may have been. Today, it’s more about goals and objectives, and necessities. We, as an industry need to fully realize this, and understand the mindset of today’s franchise candidate.

To see the original post go to:

Best Practices, Business Growth, Franchise, Marketing , , , , ,

The 80/20 Rule for Franchisors

October 13th, 2010

Many years ago, a highly astute man named Pareto, led a study which concluded that 80% of our success will arise from 20% of our efforts.  This ‘Pareto Principle’, also known as ‘The 80 / 20 Rule’ can easily be applied to an examination of priorities.

The 20% to focus on is that which will drive revenue.

One of the key challenges for any business owner is how to set priorities.  A glance at your listed ‘To Do’s’ will include many ‘Nice to Have’ items.  Yet you must distinguish between these lower priorities and those that need to top the list:  those that will spur profits.

There are many demands at any given time: from your franchisees, staff, your personal goals and business development advisors.  The secret is to know what drives your revenue, and to be ruthless about new ideas as they pertain to driving revenue.


What will drive franchise revenue?   Key areas to consider are:

  1. Communication
  2. Relationship Building with your Franchisees
  3. Driving Sales

More specifically, items that often fall under each of these are:


  • your marketing and PR
  • methods used to attract new franchisees
  • tasks that aid in attracting customers to existing franchisees
  • ways to keep franchisees excited, enthusiastic and involved

Relationships with franchisees:

  • to make them aware of the value you provide them continually
  • to help and support them in getting more sales
  • to train and advise them on best practices
  • to demonstrate how your training facilitates their increased profits

Driving sales:

  • when franchisees make money and have a good profit margin, both them and you make increased earnings
  • can be achieved through a combination of online marketing, development and implementation of effective marketing materials, the use of promotions and sales offers
  • all begins with market research

Focus on what needs to be done with your existing revenue drivers, and as new ideas arise, be strict in assessing where they fall in regards to the 80/20 rule.  This simple principle will act as a powerful lens, narrowing your focus so you can strengthen the profitability of your franchise.

When is the last time you re-evaluated your priority list?

Best Practices, Business Growth, Communication, Focus, Marketing

Twitter Strategies That Work

April 13th, 2010

Do you tweet?  Are you on twitter?

If you know you should be, but aren’t, or if you have set up an account, but don’t know what to do with it, then this is for you.

Twitter is a huge fad these days.  It’s all over the place, being talked about by many people in the marketing field, particularly those involved in social media and online communication.  But most people still don’t know about Twitter – recently I was having supper with my family, and no one at the table knew what Twitter was or was using it.  So if you aren’t on Twitter yet, don’t feel bad – you’re not alone.

There is a lot of information on the internet about how to get set up with a Twitter account, twitter etiquette, how to attract 10,000 followers in one week, and more.  I assume you can find that information if you need it.

Twitter as a Marketing Tool

I am writing this for businesspeople who have heard of twitter, are not yet using it (or not yet using it effectively) and who want to know how to get started.  I recently met with a franchisor who knew she should be on twitter, and had actually set up an account for her franchise, but wasn’t doing anything with it because she didn’t know where to start or what to do.

I spent five months doing direct Twitter experimentation.  One the one hand, I shouldn’t admit it (Twitter is supposed to be a communication tool for the real you, right?), but honestly I needed to see what would happen if I took different actions.  So I set up a number of different Twitter accounts and tried different strategies to see what would happen.  (If you want to connect with my real Twitter account, follow me at  It was fascinating to see what really happens.

My assumption is that you are on Twitter because you think it will benefit your business in some way; grow sales, increase brand recognition, build strategic partnerships, get customer feedback, keep you in touch with the market, or some other business building strategy.  I am assuming that you are not on Twitter just to be social and connect with friends (although even for a business account, that will become part of the experience).

I make no claim to be unbiased.  As you will see, I think some of the commonly used Twitter strategies are poorly thought out or dangerous for companies to use.  I recommend that before any company starts using Twitter, you first look at the question:

What do I want to Accomplish?Twitter Screen

  • Do I want to grow sales directly?
  • Am I trying to bring traffic to the company blog?
  • Do I want to learn about what my customers thinking and get product feedback?
  • Is this a brand building exercise?
  • Am I trying to find people who will make good strategic partners?

Just like goal setting and traditional marketing, to use Twitter effectively, you first need to decide what you want to accomplish.  Then you can take the steps that will help you meet your goal.  As you read through the next section, keep your goal in mind.  That will allow you to quickly discard the Twitter strategies described if they will not bring you closer to your goal.

The main strategies that I have seen people use on Twitter are:

1. Twitter maniacs – These people get as many followers as possible, indiscriminately. I have a hard time seeing the value of this, unless it’s an ego thing; ‘I have 20,000 followers – look at me’.  This is unlikely to add value to your business and I certainly don’t recommend it.

2. Niche ambassadors – You pick a niche and find people related to that niche & follow them; tweet information about your niche – get found by people who are interested in that niche.  This can be useful if you have a niche business and are looking to attract customers or strategic partners – maybe people who share your interest in the niche and who offer a complementary service or product.  The key here is to slowly increase the number of followers and people you follow so you can keep connections with the people in your circle.  Ignore people outside of your niche area of interest who follow you and only follow people who relate to your niche.  This can build strong interpersonal relationships in your area of expertise and can be very valuable in terms of building brand, strategic partnerships, and even customers.

3. Rounded Brand Tweeters You start by building a profile around things you are interested in – this will usual be professional interests with a company account, but even with a company account, you want to have some of the personal interests showing through.  Twitter is about interacting with people, so don’t have different people posting to a corporate Twitter account every day – your followers won’t be able to get a coherent sense of who you are or know what to expect.  Building a profile around areas of interest can be very useful; for example, if you run a yoga studio & are interested in politics and international finance, you might follow people who are into yoga, political or news organizations and people talking about international finance.  The blend of interests can help make your account seem well rounded, and will attract people with similar interest.  This type of account is most likely to support a branding strategy where the goal is to get known and to build your profile and build relationships.  It may lead in an indirect way to sales but that is more incidental than causal.

4. Sweet Tweeters – Tweet lots of quotes and inspirational sayings.  This will get you followers and lots of retweets.  However it is unlikely to lead to growth for your company.  It does work to some extent for people who are sole practitioners focused on drawing traffic to their blogs / websites.  If your tweets make people feel good, they will associate positive feelings with your Twitter account, and are then more likely to read and follow links that you post.

5. Twitter-educators – Select a niche & tweet lots of information (links, news articles, other people’s tweets, events, etc) that will be of interest to people in your niche.  Many marketing experts recommend this as a way to establish an identity as a brand leader in your space.  This is ideal for people who already have a public profile that they can leverage so that they get a number of followers right off the bat, but even regular companies can follow this path.  It takes some regular time to keep providing valuable tweets, but this is a strategy that can certainly bring you lots of online traffic if you are consistent about it and have frequent links back to your company blog/website.

6. Controversial Tweeting – Some very high profile people tweet in such as way as to create controversy and get talked about online in an ongoing manner.  By having people attack them, and then attacking back, they build up a base of very loyal followers.  The downside to this (and the reason I would never recommend it for a company Twitter account) is that you also get a large group of people with strong negative feelings about you.  This is a good way to ‘stand for something’ but very dangerous to any sales efforts you may have underway.

7. Twitter Salesbirds – These are usually very clearly company accounts that have regular posts about their company products / benefits / special offers / events.  They can gather a number of followers, but it is slow going since most average people don’t get huge value from hearing about how wonderful a company considers itself to be.  It’s very easy to breach twitter etiquette with this type of account.  These can be effective in generating sales if you have a very obvious value proposition and, usually, relatively low ticket items that do not require any kind of ongoing relationship.  In that case, your tactic may be simply to drag as many one-off visitors as possible to your website / links, and now worry about providing ongoing value.

Twitter is hopefully one sales / marketing tool among many.  Remember, the keys to success are knowing what success looks like for your company, then using that knowledge to select your strategy, implementing and then measuring using your key metrics, and changing direction if necessary based on your results.  With a good plan, Twitter can be a great boost to your business, and a lot of fun along the way.

Join Open Box on twitter: or visit our blog, read our stories about experimenting with Twitter and share your Twitter stories and questions in the comments section of the blog.

Best Practices, Business Growth, Communication, Franchise, Marketing, Twitter Experiment