Sparktank’s Founder Juliette is interviewed by Steve Tallis from the Starks Lounge Podcast to discuss Franchise Local Marketing.

Take a listen above, read the full transcript, or click here to listen on the Starks Lounge Podcast page:

Steve Tallis:

Welcome to The Stark’s Lounge, a podcast about business, entrepreneurship, and franchising. I’m your host Steve Tallis and I’m the co-founder of Stark’s Barber Company, one of Canada’s fastest-growing franchise systems. Stark’s is an upscale and modern take on the traditional barbershop, offering men the ultimate haircut experience. One of the things that make our stories unique is our lounge, a place where customers can relax and socialize before their haircut. My goal in this series is to talk to my guests candidly like we’re hanging out in the Stark’s lounge. I want to give listeners insight into entrepreneurship and business ownership and the behind the scenes look at what our company is all about.

I’ll be talking with franchisees within our system, as well as experts and thought leaders in the franchise industry. I really hope you enjoy this series and please subscribe if you do. Thanks for listening. Today’s guest is Juliette Schmerler. Juliet started in the web and digital marketing industry when it was in its infancy in 1999, she has followed the ever-changing landscape of the marketing world ever since. She’s the founder and creative director of Sparktank Franchise Marketing, where she specializes in helping franchisers attract new franchisees and also creating local marketing programs for their individual locations.

In her role as creative director, she’s had the opportunity to spearhead hundreds of digital marketing web and lead nurturing campaigns with her talented team of former Facebook and Google executives. The team at Sparktank understands the world of digital marketing and their concentrated focus in the franchise space gives them an edge when working with franchisers and local businesses. If you’re interested in franchising or just small business marketing in general, Juliet is a wealth of knowledge, and I’m very excited to have her with us today. Juliet, thanks for being here.

Juliette Schmerler:

Thanks so much for having me. It’s great to meet with you. You’re definitely one of our favorite clients.

Steve Tallis:

Well, that’s certainly a feather in my cap, and I can say that we really like working with you guys as well and I’ve learned a lot in our time working with you guys. I wanted to kickoff the conversation with some simple stuff that matters a lot to getting a baseline as we move deeper into things, which is the difference between social media and search marketing. There’s two things that we’re really doing online these days, a lot of which is spending time on social media. We see a lot of ads, but we’re not as annoyed with them as we used to be. In fact, we welcome them because they’re very topical and very targeted and they weave nicely into our lives.

And then obviously when we’re searching for things the goal is to find what we’re looking for and Google does a good job of that, not only with the algorithms and how the search engine is built in and of itself, but also with the advertisements and typically people that are aggressively bidding on these keywords have a really relevant message to send. And so I wanted to get a quick baseline there and understand what the difference between social and searches, so if you can explain that, that would be great to kick us off.

Juliette Schmerler:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So they’re quite different in terms of where the client is or your customer is in the sales funnel or sales journey. So when you think about, let’s say you’re a small business and you’re trying to get new customers in your door, and you think about Google or search, like we actually do search campaigns on Google and we also sometimes use Bing and we use couple other channels, but Google is obviously the biggest player. People are kind of looking for a solution so they’re going to Google, they’re thinking I want a haircut for example, who should I go to?

And so the advantage there is that there’s a high intention of purchasing at that point. So that’s one of the beauties of advertising on a channel like Google because you’ve got people who are really looking to buy. The disadvantage with Google of course is that all your competitors are also trying to get on there so when somebody searches for say a barbershop, they may see other barbershops or they may see other competitors. So you have to spend a little more to kind of be up there at the top and there’s a little more competition in general, depending on what market you’re in. There’s some markets where there isn’t much competition, it really depends.

Something like Facebook or Instagram or pretty much any social media channel, the difference there is you’re going in, you’re saying, “Hey, I’m going to look for people who I think would be interested in my product or service, and I’m going to kind of suggest to them that they might want to buy my product or service.” So for example, like in your case, you might say, we’re looking for men who live in a tight geographic area around one of our locations or work in an area close by, and we’re going to say to them, “Hey, we have a great service.” Maybe you’re going to offer them a little promotion where they get a little discount or just tell them about one of your great options that you guys offer and kind of say, “Hey, why don’t you book an appointment?”

So it’s more just sort of finding the person who is exactly your target market and kind of repeatedly suggesting to them, “Maybe you should try us out.” And the thing with that is that there probably aren’t a bunch of other competitors on Facebook doing that exactly at that time and hitting those people exactly necessarily, so you stand out a little bit more and it generally is a little bit cheaper to advertise on those types of channels versus Google, which there’s a lot of people trying to get eyeballs on there. So that’s kind of the difference and we find that both channels can work really well and some clients will be like, you know what? Search is really the one for you and sometimes it’s more social and sometimes it’s both. So it just depends on their goals and their budget and that kind of thing.

Steve Tallis :

Yeah. I think it’s great talking about what is the objective and then reverse engineering from there. But sometimes I think people don’t necessarily think all the way around the objective, or I know we were having a conversation offline the other day and I was saying to you that the thing that I really do like about social media marketing is that you can drill everything down to conversions and what your actual goals are, but at the same time, you need to pay attention to how much brand awareness you’re getting from the campaign that you’re running. So you might’ve gotten X conversions, but the amount of impressions. And if you’re using video, which we’re all using a lot of these days, they have metrics like ThruPlays and so you can see that a lot of people are seeing your content.

And if it’s relevant and it’s educational about your brand, your customer experience, what have you then they’re getting to know you and there’s a lot of value in that too. So, that’s what always kind of nudges me a little bit in the direction of social over search. But I wanted to talk about small business marketing and that’s something that you guys specialize in and something that our listeners are obviously really interested in, which is possibly divesting out of their corporate careers or another career and getting into small business and marketing is a fun thing to think about, but it’s also something to learn about in your early days. And so I think we can start with the process and if you could explain, what is the process that you take people through when you’re starting a campaign with them and you’re building and creating objectives in a campaign for a small business or an individual franchise unit?

Juliette Schmerler:

Yeah. So when we do a program, a lot of times we’ll start off by kind of working with the franchise or to develop a program for their franchisees. And then we’ll sometimes also work with the franchisee to kind of get into what they’re looking for in their particular market and that kind of thing. But the first step really we do, when someone comes to us and is interested in developing a local marketing program for their franchisees, we’ll do a strategy call. And the strategy call is to really understand things like, what are the goals of your campaign? Are you trying to get a booking for an appointment? Are you trying to sell something? Are you trying to get a phone call? Like, what are we trying to achieve in the campaign?

How many locations do you have? What kind of a budget do you think your franchisees will be comfortable with? Sometimes there’s a little bit of sharing of costs with a franchise or the franchisee so we’ll talk about what sort of budget they could work with. Other things like, what kind of branding and creative assets do you have that we can work with? Like you mentioned video is something we’ve been using more and more because it’s really effective so, do you have any little video clips we can put together and create a nice little ad or your logo? Et cetera, and then what we do is we develop what we call kind of a quick quote, and it’s a little proposal that’s really customized for you.

So we go back from all the questions you’ve answered in your strategy session and we say, “Okay, here’s kind of what we are recommending for you. Here’s kind of option ABC.” And some of that is just our ideas on what we think would work for you, and some of it is actually looking at your competition. So we actually will go in and do things like look at what would be an average cost per click. So, in other words, how much would it cost if you were say advertising on Google to get clicks in your industry, in your geographic area or the geographic areas of your franchisees that you want to promote. And then kind of giving you some sort of predictions around how many conversions do we think we could get? So conversions in the marketing role. What that means is how many times to say, for example, somebody fills out your form or make a phone call or whatever that goal was.

So yeah, the quote is kind of a strategy of here’s what we think we should do for you, and that’s also trying to give you some concrete numbers, because it’s always nice for a franchisee to kind of go, “Okay, if I spend a 1000 bucks, what’s my ROI on that? How many people are going to actually book something? Or how many are going to give us a call and maybe how many of those people are going to actually become customers?” So, that’s just nice to have those numbers.

And then of course, once we decide on what program we want to do, we build out the campaign, we develop the creative, we do the keyword research, we fill all the technical setup and then we launch the campaign. And then we’re obviously continuously monitoring it, tweaking it, making it better, seeing what’s working, what’s not, and then the idea is to continuously get your numbers better and better and that kind of thing.

Steve Tallis:

Yeah. And I think it’s important and we’ll talk about it in a bit when we’re thinking about the technical aspect and the execution aspect, I guess I should say, which is obviously of course going to impact the ultimate ROI, and you guys have that expertise and we’ll get into like how social media particularly has empowered people to do their own marketing, but it’s not really as easy as people think. So what channels do you typically do local advertising on? We’re talking about local campaigns here, and I know you guys do a lot of really cool stuff. So I have to give a shout out for me on that… We work together in addition to the work you do with our franchisees on franchise recruitment marketing, because I’m always out there looking for the best people.

And based on like the profiling and everything that we looked at and Stark’s is definitely in the luxury market and we’ve had success selling franchises to some of our customers and most of them are very affluent and educated and white collar for lack of a better term so we leveraged the program on LinkedIn that we use that helps connect me with all kinds of prospects who are interested in entrepreneurship, it’s powered by AI. It kind of works in tandem with me on the account and I pick up on conversations and very often calls get booked right into my calendar.

And while I’m going on about my day, this marketing program is working on behalf of me so I did want to give a shout out there and let the audience know that you guys are using a lot of different programs, a lot of different channels, but typically when you’re doing local advertising, what are you using?

Juliette Schmerler:

Yeah. Definitely you were mentioning about LinkedIn there are some situations when we’re doing local marketing where we’ll recommend LinkedIn. So LinkedIn is great for more of a business to business type of product or service. So let’s say a franchise is doing like disaster remediation for businesses, that kind of thing, it’s a big ticket, they tend to kind of working with more business clients. Linkedin can be great for that, but generally speaking most of the campaigns we do for franchises are on Facebook. Facebook and Instagram as you mentioned, they’re the same company and Instagram we’ll tap into if it’s a bit of a younger audience.

So for example, we did a program for A&W where they were really trying to tap into millennials, which is a great audience, and we used Instagram a little more for that kind of thing. And then, yeah, definitely search. Google like I was mentioning, we also sometimes will use Bing… Bing is kind of neat because it’s another search tool that will show up on certain browsers where Google won’t, and it’s a lot less expensive, of course, smaller audiences go into Bing, but it’s kind of an area that a lot of people think about. It’s a Microsoft product and there’s opportunities to advertise there in some cases. So yeah, mostly I’d say Facebook, Instagram and search channels, but occasionally we will use LinkedIn as well.

Steve Tallis:

Interesting that you bring this up actually about A&W and search. I started thinking about, as you were talking, the whole concept of knowing your customer and in our brand guidelines, which are important, obviously, we’re a franchise network and so the people that are running stores are licensed to use our brand in a specific territory and so we really focus on those and make sure that they adhere to those. And there’s a section in there that talks about the target audience, and we specifically highlight millennials, and that’s something that we updated recently because millennials are kind of aged 25 to 40 now, and they’re really in that category where we need to focus on them for the next 10, 15 years for sure.

And they’re different than the gen Xers and baby boomers especially, and so yeah, we get all categories, but if we’re focusing on them, what we learned through research was that having experiences are more important to them than having material items like the latest gadgets or expensive clothing, that they’re not into like wealth and authority and tradition and things like that, they’re more into happiness and mental wellness and those are kind of the attributes of success to them. And so understanding them is really important and it helps us craft the right message to hit them with, and so I think that’s really important for business owners when they’re thinking about marketing. And I just actually wanted you to touch on that quickly and talk about the importance of like, know your customer and know what message to send.

Juliette Schmerler:

Yeah, definitely. Yeah. I mean, when it comes to generally like targeting, it definitely is one of the big things that we try to understand right off the bat is who is your persona or target market and what are their pain points and what makes them tick and why would they be interested in what you have to offer? And when it comes to millennials, first of all, if you’re going to do advertising to millennials, basic rule, use photography and people in your ads that show millennials. I mean, that’s not just true for millennials, that’s true for anybody you’re targeting, people want to see themselves in your ads.

So they want to be able to kind of relate to the person in the advertising, so that’s one thing. And then yeah, with millennials, sometimes the advertising it’s more about something more meaningful, but you might have a tagline about doing something to help the planet, let’s just throw that out there. But you’re still sort of selling that service but your brand is showing that you care about something else and they want to be part of that. So, that’s the kind of thing that’s a little different with millennials. And I think this is true for a lot of audiences, but people connect with a brand when there’s something that means a lot to them.

I was just watching the news this morning and there was a story about this woman who in London was going down during COVID and she decided to start like picking up garbage and creating greeting cards out of this, and just like recycling and doing something good for the planet, and she’s got this huge, huge following up there. She’s selling like 10,000 cards a month or something, but why is that? Because she’s doing something, it’s a great story behind it, there’s something meaningful, it’s environmental. So people like that and they want to be part of that and that’s definitely very true for millennials as well.

Steve Tallis:

Yeah. It brings to memory a campaign that SCENE points. So I guess Scotia Bank, Cineplex, their partnership. They ran a campaign before COVID and it was like how they have all these like national Siblings Day and et cetera and they created National No Excuses Day, and it was targeted at millennials and it was basically like a lot of millennials would not go to the movies on Friday night because they had a really long work week and they would make an excuse, “I’m tired. I don’t feel ready, I think I’m just going to watch Netflix and order some food.” And it was just this whole campaign leading up to that day, but pumping this message out saying, “Park that attitude this weekend and park your excuses and get out with your friends.”

So obviously they understood what millennials were going through and how they felt like they were being overworked and they were trying to reinforce the importance of friendship, which millennials like really believe in as well and so they really understood the audience and then what a great message to send if you want people to go to the movies, right? So I think that was a really successful campaign and that definitely came to mind as you were speaking there. And good segue into talking about what campaigns are the most effective? And where do you typically have the most success?

Juliette Schmerler:

I would say that the campaigns that we’ve had a lot of success with, and I think you can probably attest to this, is when there’s a promotion and a time limited promotion. So for example, when you and I worked on a campaign together where we were offering 50% off a haircut, of course, you don’t want to do that forever because you don’t want to be like, sorry to say this, but you don’t want to be like The Brick, where its every commercial is like, discounts and 50% off. That every day it’s like another discount so you don’t…

I always laugh when I see the commercials from The Brick because I’m just like, it’s always like the guy with the deep voice kind of going, “Act now, 50% off this.” and “Last minute sale.” Or, “Boxing day sale.” And I’m like, every commercial says the same thing, I don’t feel like I’m in a rush to go to The Brick. So you don’t want to do that, but you want to kind of have something like… I guess to answer your question like what promotions work well? Yeah, we definitely know people like free, people like discounts, and we’ve had a few clients who do grand opening promotions like we’ve done with you as well where just to kind of get a lot of traffic in the door for a new franchisee, they’ll do something like a big promotion, a 50% off, maybe a free something for a day.

And what’s nice about that is that you kind of build up a bit of a client base, and so yeah, people like that kind of thing. Again, you want to make it sort of time limited so there’s some scarcity that they feel like they got to actually take action but that type of thing definitely works super well.

Steve Tallis:

Yeah. And I think it goes back to what’s the objective and being cognizant of your brand and how you want it positioned and so if you are doing something that’s discounted or free, making sure that if you’re in the example of Stark’s, you’re time limiting and you’re tying it to something like a grand opening and so there’s meaning behind it, “Hey, come check us out. We’d love to meet you. Come try the experience, tell your friends about it.” et cetera.

But it’s not something that you want floating out there indefinitely because it can kind of devalue your brand, and then if you could be an entirely different market and be a budget brand and want to permeate certain messages where you’re just constantly discounting to constantly incentivize people to choose you because their conscious mind might be a lot around when they select who they’re going to do business with, price. And so you just keep winning on price and keep generating the business and doing it in a strategic and tactful way. So I guess it just depends on what you’re looking for.

Juliette Schmerler:

Yeah, for sure. And there’s other things that can work really well because like we were talking about, you don’t want to do that forever and some of it is kind of just building brand awareness like you were talking about before. Like maybe you share a video about a customer experience and that really reminds them, “Oh yeah. I really wanted to try that place.” So it’s kind of a combination of getting people in the door, but also building your brand.

Steve Tallis:

Yeah. And I think like for Stark’s, the example is like we’re working on and it’s difficult with COVID because there’s certain stages that we’ve been in, in Ontario where we can’t even have multiple people in a room together, enough people in a room but our grandiose plan for creating content over the next little while as we come out of it, is really showcasing the experience and letting people know that it’s more than just a haircut, that we’ve turned an errand into an experience.

And certainly coming out of COVID, it’s just like another thing that you can do outside of the house. I don’t think people are sick of their homes, some are for sure, but maybe they found new things, maybe they put a pool in or what have you. It’s not like they’re just dying to not be at home at all times, but it’s like probably an easy time in the next little while to give people any reason to go do something. And again, it’s like really letting people know that we’re not an errand and that we’re an experienced and you’re going to have a good time when you’re at Stark’s.

Let’s talk about ROI, campaign management, stuff like that. So some of the metrics that you guys measure, some of the tools that you use to see how successful a campaign is. You’ll do things like run multiple ad sets and watch them, and start going with whatever’s working best. You guys have like a really modular on the fly approach to make sure that if you’re running a one month campaign with a specific objective, I’ve seen it firsthand where like, it really ramps up as the month goes on. And like by the last week and a half, two weeks, it’s really humming. Things like retargeting, and again, this kind of will be a good segue into like the difference between hiring an expert and trying to do your own thing. But talk about those tools and those metrics and stuff and what you guys are doing behind the scenes when the ads are running.

Juliette Schmerler:

Yeah, for sure. You know, looking at your numbers is a really important part of doing digital advertising. And it’s one of the reasons I like digital advertising because there’s real concrete data behind it, and it’s very easy to get that data versus other forms of marketing where you’re hoping it kind of gets out there and it’s a little harder to measure, but with digital, you can really get those numbers.

So the kinds of things that we look at are… When we put an ad out, whether it’s on social media or advertising on Google is like, there’s a few things that you can look at. So traffic will tell you kind of how many people are seeing your ad and how many people are getting hit by your ad. But then things like how many people click on your ad, so what that shows is, “Okay. Well, there’s enough interest and this ad is interesting enough that somebody is clicking and wanting to go and learn more.” kind of thing. So that’s important just to understand that these ads are compelling enough to get people to act.

And then the big thing of course is, again, that term conversions which really what that means is, how many people take the action that you want them to take in the end? So the traffic and the clicks, is part of that to get them to go and then there’s a percentage that will actually do the action. So whether, again, it’s filling out a form, phoning, there’s different things that we kind of try to do, but basically the conversion is the number that we’re ultimately looking at because that’s when somebody has reached out.

And then, of course, the cost for conversion is another one. So, if we’re getting five leads, but they only cost us 20 bucks each, great. Say this client has a smaller budget and it was 20 bucks for a lead, that’s usually quite a good number. If we’re going, “Oh, wow, it’s costing $150 to get a person to actually convert.” maybe we want to see what can we do to make that less expensive. So, there’s a lot of different things that we kind of look at and they all kind of play into one or each other, in terms of getting those numbers up, to get those people to act, and then seeing how much it costs to actually get those people to act, and how can we increase the numbers of people acting, so number of conversions and decreasing the cost of that conversion.

Steve Tallis:

Yeah. And you mentioned at the beginning while you love digital marketing and you guys are a digital marketing and advertising agency and I think that digital is be all and end all of everything, especially moving out of COVID. I think that digital is dematerializing things everywhere. Like we don’t go to the bank anymore unless we have to, if we can do it on the app or online, we do it. We don’t buy a map book anymore, we get a map online for free, it’s called Google Maps and it’ll talk to you and give you directions.

Juliette Schmerler:


Steve Tallis:

And so as we continue to see this dematerializing of everything around us and being kind of put into digital form, I just think people need to think like that from a marketing standpoint and understand that you are going to get your word out in a digital way, in the best possible way. They’re really going to be able to learn about what goes on in your business or the service you provide, the experience you provide. You can tell someone almost… they can almost feel your food tastes like if you do it in the right way. So I just think it’s so important for everyone to embrace all forms of digital marketing and aspire to it. What campaigns get the best results? And which ones are the most challenging? That’s a question I think a lot of people would want the answer to.

Juliette Schmerler:

Yeah. So in terms of best results, kind of going back a little bit to what we were talking about before like promotions, discounts, limited time kind of stuff, the numbers are generally quite good on that. As far as most challenging, I think the higher ticket items tend to be more challenging and just kind of makes sense that if you’re asking for somebody to spend a lot more money to commit a larger budget, it’s not as easy to sell, right? For example, we have a client who is a franchise that does daycare and preschool programs. So this is a parent deciding to send their child to a daycare that could cost them 800 or more per month. It’s also their child, which is emotional, it’s a little bit harder to get a million people kind of signing up for that right off the bat.

So you have to do things to build trust a little more with larger ticket items. So for example, instead of just saying, “Hey, book an appointment.” like we might do with you, we might say, “Download a video that shows parents talking about their experience with this daycare franchise.” And then that kind of cuts them closer to going, “Hmm, these parents are all saying this is great. Maybe I should do this.” And so then we might retarget those people. So maybe we see that they’ve gone to the website, they’ve watched the video, but they didn’t fill out the form. Let’s send them another ad with something to build their trust again.

So, we can definitely get results with clients like that, it’s just there’s a little more work. But at the same time, when they do get a sale, it’s a big ticket sale for them too. So a little more effort, but more reward for the client as well.

Steve Tallis:

Yeah. Great example there of the daycare, it makes me think about tone and how important it is to get the right message and the right tone, and for a daycare obviously, you’re talking to people about trusting you with their most prized possession, which is their children and so anytime I think you’re sending a message to children or about children, it needs to be nurturing and caring and like PG rated versus maybe like something like a nightclub where the message is more adult rated and it’s all about excitement and you don’t care about like the whole nurturing element and maybe even something that’s PG rated doesn’t serve you very well. So I think emerging brands really need to focus on their tone, and in a lot of cases what they’re doing is trying to separate themselves or differentiate themselves from the legacy brands.

They’re trying to be a disruptor, they’re trying to gain attention and I think that’s really important. And then obviously for you guys working in franchise systems or distributed networks, so there could be franchisees all over the country and but at the end of the day, they’re depending on the same thing, which is a consistent message that reflects the right kind of tone and the right personality that everybody wants the brand to have. So how do you make sure that you’re aligned with the brand? How do you consult with them on their tone? How do you maybe even refine it with them? Just talk a little bit about that.

Juliette Schmerler:

Yeah. That’s definitely very important and it’s kind of all part of your brand image, right? So I personally really love it when there’s a brand where there’s something that really differentiates and they don’t sort of sound like everybody else, right. You don’t want to kind of go the safe route of sounding like everybody else out there, so like a great example of a client when I think about tone is we have this client Foxy Box and they do waxing, and the owner, she’s just kind of a bad-ass chick. She’s like a strong woman, she’s like got tattoos and she’s just kind of a cool chick and her brand really reflects her. So she uses a lot of language like, hey babe and you’re a bad-ass boss and all this stuff, and it’s actually super fun doing her advertising because the language is just like really fun and it really reflects this kind of… She likes that image.

She’s not trying to be all spa-like and quiet and serene, she’s just like bad-ass kind of thing, and I think that really works super well for her. And they have fantastic photography, the models are all different shapes and sizes, they’re kind of a little edgier looking. So I definitely think it’s super important to have an image and everybody’s image is different. In your case, you’re going for kind of like higher end clients, you’ve kind of given these people are really great experience, they’re professionals, so stick with who you are trying to reach out to and create a persona for yourself and don’t try to kind of whitewash it for the masses. That’s kind of what I think in terms of messaging.

Steve Tallis:

Great insight, and actually something really funny happened while you were talking, my phone buzzed, and I just looked down at it and it was a promotional text and I just quickly swiped to open it because it just reminded me of what we were talking about earlier. And it was the Friends and Family Event and then when you scroll up, you can see all these text messages that it’s sending me, the Scratch and Save Event, the this, the that and it’s just funny how some brands will just bombard you with those messages. But hey, if that’s something that’s worked for them over time and they’re seeing ROI, they’re obviously continuing to do it for a reason. And again, when people are competing or making decisions I think solely on price, it’s important for them to know constantly who has the best price out there and to be well-informed about price.

And so I think that for a longstanding incumbent brand, which this one that I won’t mention is, that message might work. But then if you’re trying to disrupt that brand, you got to be really creative and you got to make sure that your message kind of stands out and it doesn’t get drowned out. And speaking of creativity, I want to talk a little bit about that right brain and left brain in your field. And certainly in your agency, you have kind of two types of people and so if we go back to like the Mad Men days, it was like mostly in advertising and marketing agencies like a lot of right brain people, right? Because you just had to kind of think of what the message was going to be and how to get creative and then put it on a billboard or in a magazine perhaps and it’d be more difficult to track.

Whereas nowadays, we use technology that’s through Google, through Facebook, things that we’ve talked about and we can really understand campaign management, we can change things on the fly and we are constantly working on the data and analytical and technology side, refining campaigns as they move, and then we’re focusing on how to be creative. And I just wanted to know like, do you think that the pendulum has swung from one side to the other, where left brain people are more important now than right-brained people? Or is it a 50/50 thing? Talk a little bit about creativity versus the more kind of analytical side within marketing and in general within your agency and such.

Juliette Schmerler:

Well, I’m trying to think about whether I think one is more important than the other. I mean, I guess my initial instinct would say they’re both very important because the creative side and the strategy side, which I personally love that part of it is what will make your campaign a success. So if you are really good at understanding how to write messages, how to do ads that look good, that affect people and they get the results you want, that’s a very important aspect of the success of a campaign. Now, the data side and the technical side is what tells you whether your hunch about what you think is good is actually working or not and it’s nice to have kind of that ability to be able to check what you think is working.

Whereas like you were saying, kind of like in the mad men days if you put an ad out… They had ways of measuring things back then and of course there’s still traditional advertising going on today but like if you had an ad in a magazine, you didn’t necessarily know how many people are sitting and looking at that ad, right. It’s not like a click, you know? So it was a little bit more about kind of trying to understand the sales and how your sales would maybe increase, be based on a campaign and that kind of thing. So I think they’re both really important. I think that it is important to have that creative side to think outside the box, to develop campaigns that work for people, but the technical side is also very important because at the end of the day, people want results, right?

We want to be able to see the money that we’re spending is giving us a good return on investment and that we’re reaching the people we want to reach, and that it’s actually increasing your sales and your business.

Steve Tallis:

Yeah, good point. And I think for a guy who likes to always try to think ahead, and maybe in certain instances I think too far ahead, but it’s like when we talk about traditional advertising, I think that some of those forms of advertising still work in certain areas, like a real estate agent does come to mind where it’s like you’re probably really, really focusing your efforts on a geographic area, and the more that people might see you in the paper, on a bus stop, et cetera, around town they just feel like you’re the person. And I think a lot of people who don’t have a real estate agent who’s their friend or their brother-in-law or sister-in-law or whatever and they’re looking for one will think that whoever is the top kind of local reputable well-known name will get them the most money for their house.

And I’ve heard this from several of my friends that are realtors, that some of those traditional forms still work. So not to fully kind of discount the traditional forms of advertising, but obviously I’m a big fan of digital advertising and I think that as time goes on, when you look at those screen reports that get sent every week, and I think we all throw up in our mouths a little bit when we see them because we’re spending a lot of time on our phones and staring at our phones but if you deliver a meaningful content to people, then I think that it can be time well spent in education.

Juliette Schmerler:

Yeah. And actually, what’s been interesting with traditional media and we’ve tapped into this a little bit especially more so with franchise recruitment marketing, where we’re trying to sell franchises, the traditional media is kind of crossing over to digital. So for example you can create a news story that is kind of an advertorial, that sort of a paid news story that appears in print and like local newspapers. And then the papers actually are taking that news story and having it appear digitally as well. So maybe on Facebook channels and so on so it’s still… This is a little more of a PR thing than kind of advertising, it’s kind of a combination of advertising and PR.

We did a campaign for a client where we did some print articles that also appeared digitally and it was extremely successful. Part of that was because it’s coming across as more of a news story and in there is a little bit of a sales pitch, but it still can work and I think what’s happening is that the traditional media world is there’s still some opportunities to do that, and then they’re also kind of crossing over into digital and utilizing some of the strategies of traditional and digital as well.

Steve Tallis:

Hey, yeah. Something came to mind when you were mentioning this, and I know we talked a little bit about… I have a very successful email drip campaign on the franchise recruitment side that you guys did for me and we got interviewed with a professional writer and he does a great job of creating the drip and telling the start story. But here’s where I’m thinking, when we go back, I remember when we started Stark’s, it was like 2012, 2013, we were just getting ready to open the store and we built out the system and we were thinking about sending emails to customers. And we were trying to be really cognizant about not invading them with anything spammy.

So it was like just the appointment confirmation and thanks for coming, and then obviously maybe like a followup to see how everything went, right. That whole feedback and review type of email, because back then everything was spam and it seemed like everything was trending away from email, but then there’s like this arc, like it kind of did a U-turn and people aren’t annoyed with email anymore because a lot of companies, with the evolution of technology and stuff, have been able to embed a lot of cool things in the email, like a barcode that could be scanned for a coupon, different things, right. And kind of what you’re alluding to too as well, in terms of like something that is an interesting read, some newsletters like on Wall Street about finance and stuff people subscribe to and they get it every morning to their phone and these companies are just taking off.

So again, it feels like email has done a bit of a U-turn. I just want you to talk about that, because I know you guys are using it and you’re having success with it. And now you’re even recommending it a little bit more to clients. Talk about the evolution of email because you’ve been in the business for a long time.

Juliette Schmerler:

Yeah. We’ve started to do some kind of email outreach campaigns for some of our clients. And what we find with email is there is definitely an art to it, and there are a lot of things you need to know about email outreach that is important in terms of being successful. So there’s kind of two different things. And what you were talking about in terms of email, like if you have a client base and you’re reaching out to them to kind of keep in touch, share promotions, keep yourself top of mind, I think that is really, really valuable.

And most people if they really like a brand, want to hear from them and it is important to kind of stay in touch with people, and if they don’t, then they can unsubscribe, right? So that’s an important part of keeping your client base happy. The other thing I was talking about was sort of more cold outreach. If you’re kind of looking at using that as a way of getting sales, it can be really effective. It’s kind of a combination of a numbers game and reaching out to enough people that there are some that are going to kind of act, it’s also about making your messaging super relevant so they don’t feel like they’re being spammed. So the messaging and the content it seems like it’s been catered to them and you’ve reached out to them for a reason because maybe they have a background that matches this offer.

There’s also some technical stuff in terms of understanding how to do email outreach so that you’re not jeopardizing your domain. You want to be careful to follow the rules and be compliant and so on. But yeah, it can be really effective. I mean, I have a couple of people that I work with that reached out to me via email and said the right thing at the right time when I was looking for something and their content threw me in and then I contacted them and I ended up working with them. So yeah, there’s a bit of an art to it, but it can definitely be effective.

Steve Tallis:

Yeah. And it all comes back to like, if it’s topical and if it’s impactful and it kind of hooks you and then it makes sense and it’s something that you were thinking about, or you want to know more about then it’s going to be every bit as effective as something on social media or something that you just like went out and literally searched for on Google. But yeah, I thought it was interesting. Like I saw an email going in one direction and then all of a sudden you could embed all this dynamic imagery and stuff into email, and actually that newsletter I was thinking it was called Morning Brew, like I read at one point that they either IPO or they were acquired for hundreds of millions of dollars and it was just a student who started writing a newsletter about finance for people at the university and then everybody around campus was asking them to subscribe to it.

I think kind of similarly to what Mark Zuckerberg was doing when he started Facebook and people around the Harvard campus were like, “Hey, how do I sign up for that thing?” And then yeah, Morning Brew just turned into like something that people from all over the world subscribed to for a very like targeted, concise morning brief about finance. So you’re just seeing a lot with email and I really thought a long time ago it was like, “Okay, this is just going to get pushed out and extinct because there’s so much spammy crap out there.”

But again, with the rules there’s less of that and that’s another important thing when you talk about compliance, right? It’s how you guys drive more value when you work with people, is like you understand what the rules are, what the compliance are, whether it’s email, whether it’s a social media site, how much stuff you can do, great program references, LinkedIn outreach, right? You can’t just go and connect with a million people every day, Linkedin is going to catch you doing that and probably suspend or terminate your account. And there’s lots of rules when it comes to Facebook and Instagram too, right? And Google, the algorithms are always changing and so yeah, I want people to understand that as creative as you can be, and no one knows your brand better than you and stuff, but when it comes to delivering a program, hiring an expert is a smart way of doing it.

Juliette Schmerler:

Yeah, for sure. Actually, that’s a really good point about understanding of rules. I mean, sometimes we’re pulling our hair out because Facebook in particular has changed the rules and gotten really strict about a lot of things because they were under fire, a lot of issues with security and safety and privacy and so on so as a result, they have tightened rules on advertising and us advertisers have to kind of go figure out how to work with that. But it is an important thing to understand, because you can do an ad campaign on Facebook and if you don’t understand some of the rules they have, they will reject your ads.

Like they’ll just be like, “Nope, you’re rejected.” And if they think that you’re trying to like get away with something and work like around their system and break their rules, they could even like close your accounts and not let you advertise. Like you really do need to know what you’re doing because they’re serious about it. So yeah, there’s a lot of things to understand about advertising and knowing to create ads that comply with their rules and still get your results for sure.

Steve Tallis:

Yeah, and something like getting your account shut down is just the kiss of death type thing and people need to be careful and you guys can consult with them on the compliance stuff and it’s a fluid environment as well and so you’re always up to date on that. And that’s really helpful for them. Hey, this conversation could go on forever, it’s just a fun aspect of running a small business and I know you guys have a ton of fun doing what you do. I think when people are thinking about buying a franchise, one of the things that excites them is building a brand in a community and getting creative and there’s nothing more exciting than seeing some type of marketing initiative come to life and seeing customers come in the door and knowing that you’ve generated that business and then obviously pivoting over to working on like showing them a great product or service or experience or what have you and building their loyalty.

But yeah, it’s such a fun topic and we could probably go on forever and I don’t think this will be our last conversation in the Stark’s Lounge that’s for sure in terms of marketing, and there’ll be more to cover. And as the landscape changes, we’ll continue to revisit and definitely we’ll reconvene in the future and talk again. And for everybody out there, Juliette is with Sparktank Franchise Marketing, and they’re actually located out in the Western British Columbia. And the reason why we chose to work with them after a really extensive and exhaustive search is because they actually give a lot of insight online with case studies and such real-world examples, so to speak, of the type of work that they do and what they’re capable of, and how they can concentrate efforts and scale with like large companies and run huge campaigns, but how they can also start with you in a small and concentrated way and help you grow.

So that’s why we ended up choosing them, and how I like to run the business is basically, form really strong partnerships with great people and work with them over time. So Sparktank is a great partner for Stark’s and I encourage everybody out there to go online, check out their content, look them up if you’re interested in learning more. And again, it’s not just in the franchise space, they do a lot of small business marketing. So check them out and until our next chat about marketing, I again, had a lot of fun, and thank you so much for being here today Juliette.

Juliette Schmerler:

Thank you. I really enjoyed talking to you and I’m happy to come back anytime.

Steve Tallis:

If you like what you heard today, subscribe to our podcast, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube at Stark’s Barber Co.