New Podcast: “How Do You Franchise an App?”

New Podcast: “How Do You Franchise an App?”

Matt Crowell quit his job and sold his car and condo to pour everything he had into his first startup, GetintheLoop, a mobile marketing SaaS platform. While his parents thought he was crazy when he put all his chips in, today the risk looks like it just might pay off.

Get in the Loop started in 2013 in Matt’s native British Columbia and has since gone national in Canada, with plans to enter the U.S. market this year. The platform gives local consumers access to offers via a mobile app. The service started out as a way for golf courses to send out offers like half-priced afternoon tee times. It quickly expanded to multiple categories, from food and dining to health and fitness.

Get in the Loop has churned through a few channel strategies since its launch, including direct to SMB sales and using a media reseller network. Last year the company settled on a franchise model, where local entrepreneurs can buy in for C$35,000 to own a local market.

The franchise angle sets Get in the Loop apart from other digital marketing platforms. While not unheard of, franchising is an unusual channel strategy for digital marketing software. Will it work? Time will tell, but Matt insists he already has many franchisee success stories. He also claims there is pent up demand among potential U.S. franchisees.

“We had been thinking for a couple of years, ‘How do you franchise an app?'” Matt said, recall the transition to the franchise model. Matt said he consulted with a seasoned franchise pro. “We came up with this model to empower an entrepreneur to go into a market and sign up local businesses.”

The launch was originally planned for late 2018 but those plans changed after an experiment last summer to test messaging on the franchise concept quickly got out of hand.

“On a Friday night, I put out some tag lines like ‘mobile franchise’ in small cities in Canada where no one would notice,” Matt explained. “When I woke up Saturday, eight people had applied to buy a franchise. By Monday we had about 25. So I went into the office Monday and said ‘Drop a media release and tell people we are franchising.'”

Get in the Loop then went all in on the franchise model, even reassigning its direct sales force to teach franchise owners how to sell in local markets.

The podcast covers his launch story, the evolution of his channel strategy, and why he thinks the franchise model will work. There is an interesting aside on why firefighters make good franchise owners.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Here’s a short video clip from our conversation where Matt describes the risk he took to grow his business.

And as always, Above the Cloud is grateful to its sponsors.

New Podcast: “Glengarry Glen George”, featuring George Leith

New Podcast: “Glengarry Glen George”, featuring George Leith

No matter where George Leith is in the world, he rises at 4 a.m. to hit the gym. And it’s often well into the wee hours before he winds down his last call of the day. Half measures aren’t really his thing.

George runs sales at Vendasta, a white label digital marketing software company based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where George says it’s so flat you can watch your dog running away for three days. George has emerged as a prominent voice on sales excellence and a proponent of elevating the craft of selling into a profession. He does this through the Conquer Local podcast and sales academy, where he shares his sales knowledge and curates the best practices of other leading sales and marketing pros. The idea behind Conquer Local is to help sales pros “sell smarter”.

We had George on the podcast to ask him to assess the quality of the sales organizations he observes in the course of his work and what they need to do to sell more effectively. And we just wanted to shoot the breeze about what it takes to survive in sales these days.

We covered a lot of ground in the podcast. Here are some highlights.

Common Mistakes by Sales Organizations 

“Where the sales manager, CEO, CRO, CFO cannot tell me how many presentations their sales force made yesterday. And they wonder why they are losing business. They wonder why their customers are churning. They wonder why their people are no longer loving their jobs. Times have changed. People running sales organizations now are less the charismatic sales leader and more the person that can use data to make better decisions.”

DIY vs DIFM

“There is definitely uptake on DIY. But when we watch the software that they buy, 90 days go by and nothing happens. I like to say that that DIY is lead gen…There may come a point in time where they’re time becomes more valuable and they’d rather invest their dollars than their time.”

How Should Sales People Spend Their Days 

“A rep should spend 60% of their time talking to customers, 30% of their time building their product knowledge or researching their next appointment. And 10% of their time on admin. A lot of organizations have that formula flipped on its head.”

What Makes for a Good Sales Rep 

“I look for someone who has played competitive sports. I am a big believer in building a sales culture that is gamified and is built around celebrations. I am also a big believer in building teams…The other thing I don’t mind is someone who has had kind of a rocky road. Someone who has had some success but maybe has had some recent challenges and has something to prove. I find those people can be very effective. I am also finding that an important piece is some business acumen.”

You can catch the full podcast here:

New Podcast: “Think Like an App”, featuring Neal Polachek

New Podcast: “Think Like an App”, featuring Neal Polachek

A while back LocaliQ asked my colleague Neal Polachek to develop a talk for small businesses that would fit into its Growth Lab initiative. Something to help small businesses stay ahead of the curve.

Neal landed on an idea. What if small businesses adapted how they run their businesses to emulate the customer experiences that have become table stakes in our app-driven culture and economy?

“Our society is being habitually trained by the apps we are using on these powerful computers we have in our pockets,” Neal said.

So what does it mean to think like an app?

One example. Ditch voice mail. Who doesn’t hate voicemail? Replace it with a better modern experience like a chatbot or even an old school solution like an answering service. The app experience you are emulating is that apps are always open. An app never tells you it only operates between 8 am and 5 pm Eastern time.

Another example. Do you love watching the Uber driver inch closer to your pick up spot on the app? Or checking to see if your Amazon package has left the warehouse? Create a similar experience by giving customers real-time updates on a project’s progress. The only tech you need to do this is the camera on your smartphone.

Neal has a whole list of experiences that business can emulate to acquire more customers, make more money and have a more engaged and loyal customer base.

While technology plays a role in all of this, Neal argues that thinking like an app is more about adopting a mindset than adopting a technology.

“You don’t need to build an app. You need to start applying some of the things that apps do really well to how you do business in the real world,” Neal says on the podcast.

You can listen to the full episode here.

LSA 19 Preview: Demystifying the All in One Solution

LSA 19 Preview: Demystifying the All in One Solution

Next week at LSA 19 in beautiful Dana Point, CA (which will be a nice respite for a polar vortex victim like me), I’ll be running a workshop called “Demystifying the All in One Solution”, that will unpack why all in ones are such a thing and offer some strategies for local media sellers to sell them effectively.

The LSA’s Tech Adoption Index small business survey has consistently demonstrated through three waves of data that small business operators are looking for a single solution that does all or most of what they need to do to run their businesses, from marketing through payroll. As the chart below shows, 65% of small business decision makers would welcome one login and one bill for all their cloud software requirements. this as the highest reading among the three waves of Tech Adoption Index surveys.

Yet today very few SMBs actually take full advantage of all in one software, even when it’s offered by a solutions provider they already use. One case in point is Zoho, which calls itself the “Business Operating System.” When Zoho’s president Raj Sabhlok spoke at LSA 18 he acknowledged that the average Zoho One customer used four apps, when the entire suite includes more than 40 available apps. This utilization rate is fairly typical.

One theory regarding the all-in-one solution is that to really succeed, there needs to be a vertical component. On a recent Above the Cloud podcast, SurePath Capital founder Mark MacLeod argued that restaurants may be the first category where a single player will dominate the restaurant vertical with a comprehensive business operations solution.

Also on Above the Cloud, small business tech guru Gene Marks argued that the reason verticals make sense for all in one software is that each category has just enough specialization that a generic solution isn’t adequate.

“Most small businesses are the same — or 80% of what they do is the same across all businesses,” Gene said. “But there is that 20% that is unique about your business. And there has been no software business that has been able to handle that 20% without a lot of customization.”

During the session next week at LSA 19 (Tuesday at 3 pm in the Dana Ballroom), we’ll kick around all the strategic and tactical issues surrounding going to market with full stack SMB software solutions.

I’ll be joined by Eran Feldman from Camilyo, one of the companies out there pitching all in one solutions, and Francisco Sánchez Fernández, the CMO of Seccion Amarilla, the Mexican local search giant that is out there selling the full stack. After setting the stage for why the full stack is a thing and why it’s hard to sell, we’ll grill Eran and Fernando on how they get around these challenges.

I wrote about this topic last year in the Camilyo-commissioned report, The All-in-One Sales Challenge, which I encourage you to download and read.Also, in January we conducted a webinar on the subject. You can catch the replay here.

 

Why Did Broadly Acquire About.me?

Why Did Broadly Acquire About.me?

Broadly‘s acquisition of About.me announced today seems to be a bit more about acquiring the About.me team than about the product.

We reached out to Josh Melick, Broadly’s Co-founder and CEO, and he offered us this take: “First, we really liked the team. I’ve known Mindy for two years and wanted her to come on as our VP product – but then as we got to know the whole team we wanted them all,” Josh said. “The product synergies are obvious as well, really the same mission just different pieces.”

“Mindy” is Mindy Lauck, About.me’s CEO who will now take over the product role at Broadly, which sells a suite of messaging and reviews management products, all accessible through the Broadly app. Reviews management is Broadly’s product origin.

About.me adds a web presence component to the Broadly offering. And Lauck’s job will be to make Broadly’s offering “support the full range of the small business owners’ needs” according to Broadly’s press release announcing the deal. This sounds like Broadly is moving in the direction of having a more robust product suite. More products are a great way to increase ARPA and reduce churn, but they could create challenges for Broadly’s inside sales process that depends on a short sales cycle to keep customer acquisition costs within an acceptable range.

“It’s really a great product fit – we’re both helping small businesses raise their visibility, communicate who they are, and capture new leads. The team synergy is icing on the cake. The acquisition is the next in a series of accelerations for us – including our recent $10M Series B, being named #107 on the Inc. 500 list, and launching our web chat feature,” said Broadly spokesperson Leslie Hobbs.

Terms of the deal were not announced. However, it’s probably a safe bet that terms were more modest than the estimated $35 million that AOL paid for About.me back in 2010 (an acquisition that occurred a mere four days after About.me’s launch). That whirlwind romance failed, however, and About.me was later spun out of AOL to become an independent company.