This is third post of this week based upon my recent interview with Renee Bailey at Franchise Direct. In this part of the interview our focus turned to what many within franchising look for day in and day out… the silver bullet to increase franchise sales. When social media became more and more popular, many franchisors wanted to use social media to attract franchise candidates. Many thought, incorrectly that social media was a form of advertising. My response to the first question below sheds a different light on social media in the franchise sales process.
In the second question the focus was media’s affect on the franchise relationship. My answer was short, but to the point.
Finally, in the last question below we discussed a new trend in media – Social Mobile Local or SoMoLo.
How are franchisors utilizing social media to connect with prospective franchisees throughout the prospecting process?
Great question because many are not connecting with prospective franchisees. Social media is not the silver bullet many want and expect to make the sales process easier, or even to generate leads on its own.
Instead, social media for franchise development should be looked at as a vital complementing component in the traditional lead generation process. That means it should provide a support mechanism that candidates can be directed to and that candidates can find on their own in their own due diligence. Today’s candidates are also more diligent and cautious than ever before. Social media allows them to virtually stand next to a brand and experience how that brand interacts with its customers, franchisees, etc.
All that being said, social media can be utilized in the franchise development process as a way to drive candidates to a specific event like a webinar, where the concept can be explained in detail. The key here is that one-size-fits-all strategies with social media do not work effectively.
One more thing: it’s critical to ask questions at the onset of utilizing social media related to expectations and desired results. This is crucial in evaluating whether or not the program worked. As important as click-thru’s, insights, impressions, etc. are in analyzing the process and program itself, looking at desired results against actual results is really the true Social Media P&L.
Have new media options available altered the franchisor-franchisee relationship?
Of course, but they don’t need to. New media is all about truth, trust and transparency. Really, isn’t that what the franchise relationship should be built upon?
New media is a wonderful way of keeping in communications at all times. Embrace and adapt is what I typically advise. It’s important to receive proper training to fully understand new media and all its capabilities and features.
How does a personal brand enhance the overall brand of a franchise system?
The new trend in digital marketing, or better stated, in attracting today’s consumer is referred to as SoMoLo, or Social Mobile Local.
- Social, we’ve touched upon above.
- Mobile is just the way consumers are choosing to access and search information, and communicate.
- Local, well, that’s all about the “personal side” of the business transaction.
People want to do business with people. They buy from people. Sure, the brand may get them in the door, but it’s the person representing the brand that they want to business with. So, as consumers technologically advance, it’s not uncommon for them to check out the local franchisee’s Facebook page or LinkedIn profile, perform a Google search of the franchisee, etc. What they hope to find is a person of experience and integrity. [Even] the banking industry is leaning towards utilizing a social reputation score for business loan applicants that will rival the credit score.
Tomorrow, in the last post in this series we’ll wrap up the discussion with a questions about local websites and a word of advice for prospective franchisees.
This is the second post based upon my recent interview with Renee Bailey at Franchise Direct. As the interview progressed, Renee and I discussed challenges franchisors face integrating new types of media and how franchisors and franchisees alike could better utilize mediums at their disposal.
What are some challenges franchises are facing concerning integrating new types of media?
The biggest challenge franchises face with new media is a lack of understanding that like anything else, requires planning. Many are not taking the time to:
- develop and explore the various media available
- identify their targets along with identifying where they congregate and communicate online
- develop a strategy based upon the targets (which may actually require sub-strategies for each target and their online communities)
- execute the plan and all that goes into it, including dedication of financial AND human resources in managing and monitoring activity, and of course
- analyze and quantify results in order to continue moving forward or adjusting as necessary
Yes, that’s a lot to grasp but it is essential to developing an effective program utilizing new media. Basically, what I’ve described is e-IDEA, which is something we utilize religiously when working with franchise clients – Explore, Identify, Develop, Execute, and Analyze. It really is a great, simple guide to follow.
How do you feel franchisors and franchisees can better utilize the mediums at their disposal?
By working together, as many franchisees essentially “got there first,” meaning they were posting within social media in its early stages. It’s important to utilize their efforts as a foundation on which to build a uniform social media or new media program.
Franchisors should not take a rigid approach with respect to messaging and social involvement. New media is all about interaction and engagement, and as such, requires a “personal” touch at the local level. Of course, there needs to be guidelines and certain policies to protect the brand. But that is more common sense than anything.
Also, I believe franchises shouldn’t get all caught up in just driving LIKES. It’s more important to create a community of sharing and engagement. I much prefer seeing a Facebook with lower number of LIKES but a high number of post views. That tells me that people are coming back day after day after day to see what is on the page. Whereas just LIKING a page, they may never return. What good does that do?
Tomorrow we’ll turn our attention to how franchisors are utilizing social media to attract prospective franchisees and also, Social Mobile Local – more affectionately known as, SoMoLo!
Note: Photo credit to 1851 Magazine
The days of promoting franchise concepts and brands primarily through static, expensive, two-dimensional advertising are rapidly becoming things of the past. Sure, franchising has experienced a great run and will most likely remain the backbone of small business. However, as we continue to recover from a period of economic uncertainty franchisors must continue to explore and utilize more effective methods and processes in marketing franchise opportunities, products and services as franchise growth objectives continue to be on the forefront of franchisors’ minds in the United States and abroad.
Franchise marketing and development efforts, for both today and tomorrow, must be technologically advanced to attract a more sophisticated, educated (and cautious) franchise candidate and consumer than the franchise industry has ever seen before. A trend that is evolving as an increasing number of transitioning, highly-skilled and educated business professionals and corporate executives explore franchising as a career alternative while already successful street-smart entrepreneurs investigate franchising, perhaps for the first time, as part of their diversification and expansion strategies. As well, value-conscious consumers are spending more and more time researching information online before making a purchase, and not only for the best value. Customer reviews, consumer reports, community involvement and professional affiliation are also being considered.
In addition, today’s franchise marketing and development efforts must be an integration of new technology and traditional strategies, creating what I refer to as Integrated Franchise Marketing (IFM). It’s a comprehensive approach to achieving multiple goals and objectives within startup, emerging and mature franchise organizations. IFM directs its focus on creating or improving brand awareness for the franchise organization at local, regional and national levels, driving revenue for franchisees, and generating genuine interest in the franchise concept itself.
The fact is, candidates and consumers alike, are embracing Social Media and complementing technologies in Mobile Marketing, as a way of researching information and exploring opportunities…including today and tomorrow’s franchise brands, products and services. From this diligent research they will make buying decisions, and will network with others and share the information they’ve accumulated along with their experience with the company they’ve chosen to invest in or do business with. Basically, with an organization they’ve grown to trust!
This article was previously posted on this site October 2011.
Local appears to be the common denominator in all discussions about marketing in franchise circles. From mobile marketing to social media to software solutions, the discussion always seems to comes back to “local.”. We have even seen Google’s continued shift to complete emphasis on local which has created what appears to be a whole new segment of marketing, local marketing, complete with its own strategies, methodology and tools.
The following is a guest post by Chris Anderson, Co-founder at Empowerkit. Chris enjoys sharing his perspective, insight, and experience whenever and wherever he can as is apparent by his active participation in various franchise LinkedIn groups.
5 Local Online Marketing Support Mistakes Franchisors Should Avoid
Bringing in new franchisees is how franchise systems grow and maintain financial stability, especially early on, and it’s what most franchisors lose sleep over more than anything. But to maintain steady growth, corporate support to existing franchisees plays an essential role – from marketing and advertising, to operations and ongoing training.
All too often, though, franchise support takes a backseat to sales, leaving franchisees feeling alienated from the franchisor and disenfranchised (pardon the pun).
One thing in particular which franchisees are desperately seeking guidance on is online marketing. More specifically, how they can make sure they’re staying competitive online, attracting as many local customers as possible, and generating leads to grow their sales.
Here are 5 common blunders to avoid in franchise local online marketing support:
1. Static Local Websites
Many franchisors, early in the growth process, publish basic landing pages for franchise locations with very little unique local content, and no easy way for the franchisee to make updates. This results in poor search rankings, pathetic conversion rates, and upset franchisees that often go rogue and create their own sites.
What should you do?
Provide a system like Empowerkit, where franchisees can easily make updates to their own websites, within the brand and content controls you set and can oversee at corporate. Make sure the system is flexible and can adapt with your changing needs over time.
2. No Business Listings
Franchisees generally don’t know the first thing about submitting and maintaining their business listings on Google Places, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and other sites. So, if you don’t give them instructions and best practices, or provide an automated solution, then guess what…there are no business listings for your locations! Complete, comprehensive business listings are a key traffic driver and lead generation source, so don’t make this mistake.
What should you do?
First off, lead by example. Make sure your corporate listing is complete and consistently listed in all of the main search engines and directories. Next, decide whether to engage a specialized vendor, utilize an automated service, and/or provide documentation and best practices.
3. Ignoring Social Media
Whether you love it or hate it, social media is here to stay, and franchisees in almost every industry are trying to figure it out. Franchisors who ignore social media are finding themselves chasing down compliance issues, and seeing dozens of disparate profiles and pages that are poorly managed. Translation – a nightmare for your branding. Worse, they’re missing a great opportunity to gain a competitive edge. Don’t let this be you!
What should you do?
Don’t fight social media, embrace it. It’s the only communication channel that let’s a business directly interact with customers and other stakeholders, which is valuable any type of business. Develop a strategy with defined goals at the local level, layout any necessary policy guidelines, and train franchisees on best practices. Consider working with an outside consultant initially, and remain flexible to adapt your strategy based on results and changing trends.
4. No Attention to Lead Generation Optimization
It’s easy to get lost in what to focus on when it comes to local online marketing, and lose sight of the performance metric that matters the most – lead generation (particularly for service-based franchises). Generating leads is a science, which can always be optimized to bring in more, better qualified prospective customers. In most cases, though, franchisees have little more than a Contact Us page or their phone number and email on their website, and research shows this will produce the lowest possible lead generation results.
What should you do?
Have at least two compelling calls-to-action with connected lead captures on each page of your local websites. One for prospects that are just browsing (i.e. “Free Download: Top Tips for X, Y, Z”) and the other for those who are “sales ready” (i.e. “Schedule a Free Consultation”). Have analytics events set up that track conversion rates, so that you can test and optimize the different lead generation variables over time to continually increase conversions.
5. No Content Marketing Strategy
What’s becoming key to all online marketing efforts is a sound content strategy. That is, understanding what types of content can be created at corporate and the local level to offer customers relevant, valuable answers to their questions, and solutions to their problems, which should directly relate to the franchise’s products and services. Value driven content is what should fuel the ongoing local website updates (and lead capture CTA’s), social media profiles, online ads, and it’s what has the greatest impact on SEO.
What should you do?
Think long and hard about your brand’s culture, story, strengths, and competitive advantages. Then brainstorm your target customers top questions and frustrations as they relate to solutions that your products and services offer. Come up with ideas for content that can address these questions in a compelling way, and that will help amplify your brand online. It may be through blog posts, videos, photos, webinars, or other content, but the point is that you put a strategy in place and start implementing it through your local online marketing efforts.
These are just five common mistakes that franchisors make. Please share other pitfalls to avoid, and let us know if you have any questions!
As could be expected, many within franchising entered the year determined to make things happen. As also could be expected, many turned to social media, believing it could be the answer to improving sales at the unit level, increasing interest in their franchise opportunity, and considered social media a low or no-cost alternative to what they’ve done in years past.
Unfortunately, many have failed in their social media efforts. The reasons? Well, many did not understand the ins and outs of social media marketing. Some didn’t even understand the basics of the most fundamental social media; Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. And others failed because they were just not 100% committed to the effort. But, are these the real reasons they failed?
Well, as you may have guessed, the answer is, “No!” Ultimately, failure in social media is a direct result of failing to plan. Referring to the old adage, “Failing to plan, is planning to fail” causes me to shake my head in bewilderment at the statements posted in many of the online discussion groups recommending what clearly points to one-size-fits-all social media solutions. How much planning goes into a one-size-fits-all solution? How much commitment actually goes into a one-size-fits-all solution from both the consultant making the recommendation and the client that signs on? How much does a one-size-fits-all solution address outside the realm of the basic social media platforms? I don’t believe it’s ironic or a coincidence that the same questions I pose here are similar to the reasons many fail in their attempt to utilize social media.
Success in social media takes hard work. It takes a well-defined strategy based upon a clear, concise understanding of objectives and desired results. It takes a firm commitment of dedicated resources in both time and money. It takes knowing who the target audience is, where they congregate and communicate online, what messages need to be delivered to create interest, and seperately, to create a call for action. It takes full comprehension of a contingency plan based upon what if…? In essence, it takes planning!
Brian Solis, author the best-selling book on social media, Engage!, and Fast Company expert blogger, recently wrote an article on this very subject, In Social Media, Failing to Plan, is Planning to Fail. He wrote, “I’ve received a series of inbound requests for comments based on a report from Gartner, an IT analyst firm, that estimates as many as 70-percent of social media campaigns will fail in 2011. There are a series of discussions hitting the blogosphere and the Twitterverse exploring this very topic, some elementary and others on the right path. I contacted Gartner earlier this week and the problem is, that this data isn’t new at all. In fact, these discussions are fueled by information originally published in 2008 and in early 2010. Yet another example of the importance of fact-checking in the era of real-time reporting, yes, but, when I paused for a moment, I appreciated the timelessness of this discussion.
Are many of the social media programs in play yielding tangible results?
Are they designed to impact the bottom line or are they tied to meaningful business outcomes?
The truth is that you can’t fail in anything if success is never defined.”
To franchisors, I suggest, before choosing what appears to be a one-size-fits-all social media solution, take the time and expend the effort to develop a social media strategy that not only reflects your current status, but one that can evolve as your system grows. And, be sure to involve your franchisees as it is essential that local objectives to drive sales are integrated in the overall plan that may also include franchise development objectives. Keep in mind, many plans will include multiple objectives that may require that different social media be utilized for optimum results. And don’t forget to integrate your social media plan with your overall marketing and development plans!
Solis concludes his article, “Success is not a prescription. There isn’t one way to excel. That’s the point. Success requires definition based on intentions, goals, and mutual value … across the organization from the top down, bottom up, inside out and outside in. Success is defined departmentally and also at the brand level. There’s much to do …”
Read the complete article HERE.
* This post was originally published on this site July 2011
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