May 27, 2009

“When deciding on an advertising strategy, what are some of the factors a business should consider?”

There are 3 initial factors to consider when deciding on an advertising strategy:

1. The first thing you should do when creating your advertising strategy is to decide “what am I really selling?” – what are the BENEFITS of my product? It’s really not about selling cars, vacations, consulting services or make-up. The product is not what you are selling. You are selling the BENEFITS of that product. For example, if you are selling vacations/travel – you may be selling FUN or you may be selling HAPPINESS. If you are selling cars – you might be actually selling SAFETY or LUXURY. Make sure that your advertising message revolves around the BENEFITS of your products and services – not the FEATURES.

2. You also want to be clear on who would be interested in your product or service – what is your TARGET MARKET? You will want to identify your IDEAL CUSTOMER. If you could choose to have someone walk through your door – who would it be? How can you reach them? What product, service, message or offer would they respond to? Your definition of your TARGET MARKET will define your offerings and your advertising message. It will also define the media that you select for your message. If the “wrong” customers are coming through your doors or telephone, you have to look at how you are positioning yourself to attract those unqualified or undesirable clients. Tweak your offerings, your message and your distribution of that message – and you will attract that ideal customer.

3. Finally, you want to look at your value proposition and how it should impact your branding. Are you competing on price or quality? Do you have the best selection or location? Is your service better than your competitors? What sets you apart from your competition? You want to be sure to communicate this value proposition in the wording of your advertising message. You also want to communicate it via the branding elements you choose – ex. colors, fonts. Brightly colored logos in a casual font will usually indicate a low-cost, cheap product offering. You want to use “richer” colors and more formal fonts for the more expensive, quality items or services. Your value proposition must be reflected in the branding elements you choose or you will not be communicating the right message. You must also reflect this in the media you choose to distribute your message. The coupon clipper will not necessarily have the high-quality image for you as the Pittsburgh Business Times or putting a commercial on CNN or Fox News. You want to be sure you take your branding to the market in the appropriate fashion.

Taking these initial 3 factors into account, will synergize to create better results from your advertising.

Rebecca Lamperski,
Tri-State Senior Director of Sales
Comcast Spotlight

May 11, 2009

Franchise Q&A

1. What are a few of the advantages to opening a franchise?

The advantage of opening a franchise is to minimize your risk and maximize your earning and equity building. The success rate of franchises is in the high 90 percents. The franchise has a formula for success so you use your talents and finances to make it happen! When you own a franchise you have something to sell when you decide to move on. Owning Jeff's Super Duper Non Franchise Business is limiting because the buyer is never quite sure what will happen when Jeff is no longer part of the business. With a franchise the support is always there regardless of the ownership!

2. Do I need to have experience working in the industry before opening a franchise?

You do not need any special skills to operate a franchise. As the Director of Franchise Training at GNC, I trained people of all different backgrounds and experiences. (that's what led to me quitting my job at GNC to open my own GNC store.....I trained people and they were VERY successful....I wanted some of that action!)

Jeff Young

“to learn more, come to the Entrepreneur’s Growth Conference on June 4 and meet Jeff in person”

May 4, 2009

Small Businesses and Lending Today

To Learn about Small Businesses and Lending Today – listen to our podcast with Bob Vernick from Dollar Bank

Sponsored by : Microsoft

Here is the link:

May 1, 2009

Jim Rudolph’s Hot For a Cool Idea:

Jim Rudolph’s Hot For a Cool Idea:

How His Passion for Rita’s Turned Him from

Franchisee to Leading Franchisor

Jim Rudolph, CEO of McKnight Capital Partners, is a master multi-tasker.

At one point, the lifelong Pittsburgher had a franchise empire that included 47 Wendy’s, six Chuck E. Cheese and two Baskin & Robbins, plus two bowling centers and a construction business.

While Rudolph’s business portfolio no longer includes the bowling centers and the above-mentioned franchises, he is still a major player in the food service industry. Today, he is CEO of the popular Rita’s Italian Ice corporation, the largest concept of its kind in the nation.

Rudolph and company took notice in 2004 when the 310-store organization, famous for doling out its signature brand of frozen, fruity confections, went on the market.

In May of 2005, McKnight Capital Partners purchased the Bucks County-based franchisor with the plan for Rudolph to run it for three to six months, promote a president from within and oversee the company from McKnight’s downtown Pittsburgh headquarters. But things, as the saying goes, don’t always work according to plan.

“Four years later, I’m still very much a daily part of Rita’s Ice,” says Rudolph who takes a cross-state flight to Trevose, PA, each week. “I fell in love with this business. I loved the opportunity but I didn’t expect to be so passionate about it.”

His enthusiasm for the tasty warm-weather tradition shows. Since 2005, they have nearly doubled the number of stores to 560 in seventeen states, with plans to open an additional 75 this year alone.

Once at the helm of the company that was founded in a small Philadelphia-area storefront in 1984, Rudolph began to evaluate every aspect of the business, both large and small, in an effort to position the company into one of the country’s top franchise systems.

“There is not one thing that hasn’t changed with Rita’s in the four years since we took over, even down to the smallest detail; it’s always evolving. In business, you have to move fast, no matter what,” Rudolph shares.

His background as a franchisee gave Rudolph a unique advantage as a franchisor. He knew, first hand, what franchise owners were looking for in terms of support and how critical it is for the company to have a culture that supports the vision of the company.

“When we got into Wendy’s, there were only two dozen restaurants nationwide and the burgers cost four times higher than McDonald’s. We liked the burgers but we loved the people. The vision was pervasive throughout the company and that was very reassuring,” Jim says as he explains his efforts to emulate the Wendy’s franchise culture.

While Rita’s signature products like the Ritaccino and Misto have amassed legions of fans for the franchise, the company is also using progressive outreach practices to find new converts.

Recently, Rudolph hired a social media staff person who works full-time to expand the company’s reach through influential online networks. While there’s simply no substitute for experiencing a Rita’s treat from one of the nation’s nearly 600 stores, you can visit Rita’s virtually and chat with other like-minded Rita aficionados on sites like Facebook and Twitter. The campaign is working to strengthen relationships with Rita’s fervent fan base and engage new ones, including prospective franchise owners.

So how long will this ambitious Pittsburgher continue to make his cross-state commutes on Sundays to the company’s corporate headquarters, aptly named Cool Treat Support Center?

“I won’t do this indefinitely but I hope that I’ve created a culture that will live beyond my tenure. That’s the power of a good system.”

Want to meet at Rita’s?

Jim Rudolph will be the morning kick-off speaker at the 11th annual Entrepreneur’s Growth Conference on June 4th at Duquesne University. The event is the leading entrepreneurship events in western Pennsylvania and among the largest events of its kind in the state. For details, visit