Transitioning Interested Parties to Franchise Candidates

In continuing your journey of Franchise Development via Social Media, it’s important I point out that social media for typical business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C) purposes is much different than social media for franchise development purposes. In a typical B2B or B2C scenario, social media efforts would be directed to the entity or individual you’re attempting to do business with. Your business with them may be a single transaction, or as with restaurants, it may include repeat business where you’re seeking customer loyalty. Regardless, your position is strictly focused on attracting and keeping your customer, and the transactions are usually relative to a specific, tangible product or service. They buy. You sell. And the cycle continues the same or it abruptly ends.

intangibleIn the franchise development arena, your social media efforts will be considerably different as your objective is different. The franchise sales transaction consists of a substantial upfront fee for an intangible item, franchise rights. The transaction is only the beginning of the additional cash outlay or credit commitment, that’s triggered by the initial fee and signing of the franchise documents. Yet, the relationship is not one that’s just based upon that one single transactional experience. Instead, it’s only a small step in an ongoing relationship where the new franchisee becomes dependent upon the franchisor and the concept. Buyer’s remorse is not an option. The social media efforts must progress and build upon each other with the objectives gradually changing and progressing “as” the relationship builds, and not just “because” the relationship builds.

Yesterday, we discussed establishing the Virtual Party Room. Today, we’ll discuss how to interact with the individuals within the room and with the new people we’re introducing to the party. Our objective will be to learn, through utilization of powerful Web 2.0 technology and tools, how we can transition interested parties into franchise candidates by just “holding their hands” and letting the experience guide them along until they’re ready to make a decision. Easier said than done? Well, it’s not rocket science, but I’ll still try to be as fundamental as possible in my explanations.

Transitioning Interested Parties to Franchise Candidates

When the interested party enters the Virtual Party Room, he or she is basically just tire-kicking. Oh, they may have expressed significant interest in your concept, or maybe they’re just inquisitive. It really doesn’t matter at this point. Your objective was to introduce the individual to the party. That’s it. It wasn’t to push them immediately towards the franchise sale. It’s wasn’t about discussing the fine points of the franchise concept. It certainly wasn’t about closing the deal. Your only objective at this point was to introduce the individual to the party so he or she could learn more, interact with others in the party and gather enough information to make an informed decision at their own pace. Remember, social media is not about selling!

hostessAs with any popular party, it’s important to have a host or hostess. In your party room, this person is essentially in charge of accepting member requests, posting new information, updating various features and keeping the “conversations” flowing. I think you now fully understand the party analogy so let’s transition to reality and make reference to specifics with respect to your franchise concept.

The host or hostess is the person you install as being in charge of your social media efforts. This person is key to making your social media efforts a success or failure as this individual must be on their “A” game. They must pay attention to detail and exhibit a sense of urgency when necessary. Starting at the very beginning, this individual will set up the company page in a specific social network. I highly recommend utilizing Facebook, but it can work in other social newtorks as well.

In Facebook there are general, basic information sections that need to be completed. Once completed, you’ll need to start building your site with information about your franchise concept. Videos, a strong Web 2.0 tool, work extremely well in conveying messages to individuals interested in your concept. The founder’s statements about vision and passion for the concept goes a long way towards generating excitement. A few video testimonials from franchisees, placed strategically within the site, provide a balance between the concept as a franchise opportunity and the concept as a consumer experience.

Photos, placed throughout the site along with comments, are a great visual affect as well. These photos may be of franchise locations, the equipment used in daily operations, the original locations from which the concept was derived, the founder, personnel, the product or service sold at the franchise locations, etc. All should include comments with each post explaining the photo. Additional comments from other group members will enhance the experience behind the photos.

A media section should be established to include press releases, audios and videos of important speeches, photos of company spokespersons, online and print news and feature stories, highlights of community events, etc. Comments about each must accompany the posts. Again, additional comments will further enhance the experience.

All individuals having anything at all to do with the franchise concept should be invited to join and participate in the group. These should include company executives, managers and personnel at all levels, franchisees and their personnel, franchise customers, company vendors and suppliers, and all interested parties in the franchise concept. In place, and participating, this group creates the buzz and excitement of the group.

Now, when individuals that have expressed interest in your franchise concept join the group, they may interact with group members, asking questions and seeking information. They’ll start to “experience” the concept from all angles as if they were at the franchise locations or within the corporate office. At any time they can jump into the conversations and add their own comments. Sometimes in the forms of questions and as they get more comfortable within the group, as their own personal comments and views.

Over a short period of time, and through monitoring the group’s activities, it’s relatively easy to “see” which individuals are interested in becoming franchisees of the system. Their questions and comments will dictate their interest. This is where the individual in charge of the social media efforts increases their interaction with the interested parties and provides even more information that moves them along in the process. This is usally done through site messages, or responses or comments to their comments. Ideally, the best way is a timely instant message as provided on the Facebook page.

The system basically moves itself up to a point. From there it needs to be guided and ultimately directed towards the latter stages of the franchise sale. Now, don’t get me wrong, an email or phone call throughout the process helps, but only as a guide or reference to a real person. Another Web 2.0 tool that works great in this regard is a video email (vidmail) program that brings a real person right to their desktop. It’s both a professional and effective use of Web 2.0 technology.

Okay, the site is up and running, you have interested parties joining the group, they’re interacting within the group and all is going according to plan. What next? Certainly there’s more to this social media thing, isn’t there? Yes there is. Ever hear about Twitter? Do blogs sound familiar? How about You Tube and Flickr? Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.

twitter-logoOn Twitter you’ll post frequent bits and pieces of information about franchising and entrepreneurship in general and along with a few “personal” tweets, yes they call them tweets, you’ll post links to various parts of your concept including the Facebook group page, your website which will have a link to your Facebook page and to your blog, which will also have links back to your Facebook page. So you see, all activity will ultimately be directed back to your concept’s Facebook page because that’s where you can monitor and control the flow of information and interest because it’s interactive. There, that answers the question of why shouldn’t everything be directed to the website? Let me clarify. Facebook is interactive. Websites are not.

Remember the videos you developed for the Facebook page and the photos you posted to the Facebook page? Well, you’re now going to post the videos on You Tube and the photos on Flickr. Each post will have a desciption, and guess what, a link back to your Facebook page! This way, you’ll be able to direct individuals from your Twitter and Blog to these sites as a redirection to your group page or you may be able to generate interest in your concept by individuals exploring these other Web 2.0 sites. Keep in mind, I’m only scratching the surface on the different Web 2.0 sites as there are hundreds. Using as many as possible in cross-referencing and click-throughs will enhance your efforts many times over. By the way, it won’t hurt your search engine optimization either.

Additionally, you will take your Facebook group identity and join other Facebook groups where individuals with interests in franchising, entrepreneurship, specific business type and that may have the criteria of your ideal franchise candidate, congregate and share information. During the course of discussion and sharing of information, it’s relatively easy to guide these individuals to your Facebook group page and the cycle begins on your “turf” with them. The same holds true with LinkedIn groups, Twitter groups and other social network groups.

As you can see, the limits of social media are endless and are only limited by discouraging imagination, holding back creativity and not dedicating ample time to administer, execute and monitor the process. The potential benefits are far reaching throughout the organization including creating brand awareness with franchise candidates and consumers alike, generating qualified franchise leads and subsequent franchise sales, and establishing an interactive environment of communications and information sharing at all levels of a franchise organization.

In tomorrow’s third segment of Franchise Development via Social Media, we’ll discuss how to integrate social media with traditional franchise marketing and development strategies, and some non-traditional strategies as well. In the meantime, please submit any and all questions below, and I will respond accordingly prior to posting the next series segment.

Another Franchise Growth Roadblock?

It’s been said that franchising (and small business) will be instrumental in helping the economy recover. Yet, a recent article regarding the commercial real estate market may shed a new light on that prediction. Already facing tighter credit guidelines, franchisors may now be faced with fewer suitable locations for new franchisees that will further hinder growth initiatives.

The article, “Is Commercial Real Estate in Bubble Trouble” was originally posted on the Fish on Franchising blogsite. Fish Consulting is a national PR and marketing agency that specializes in helping mature and emerging franchise companies achieve their business goals. We appreciate working with them in presenting this article to the franchisEssentials readers.

Is Commercial Real Estate in Bubble Trouble?
As posted on Fish on Franchising (Friday May 15, 2009)

Several years following the collapse of the housing market, which gave way to record breaking home sale and price declines, experts are now warning that the next real estate wave to hit the markets will be the commercial sector.

real estate bubbleUntil recently, commercial real estate was a bright spot in an otherwise dreary economy. While residential investment plummeted 28.9 percent from the start of 2006 through the end of 2007, investment in nonresidential structures grew 24.9 percent over this period. At the same time that residential investment subtracted almost a full percentage point of gross domestic product growth in 2007, investment in nonresidential structures was adding 0.4 percentage point back. And while the delinquencies on residential mortgages have been on the rise since the first quarter of 2006, delinquencies on commercial mortgage bonds reached a record low of just 0.27 percent this January, according to Fitch Ratings.

The problem is that commercial real estate tends to traditionally lag behind residential just a bit. With 5.7 million jobs lost since the recession began in 2007, nearly 13.7 million Americans out of work and the foreclosure rate double what it was the year before; it’s easy to see why commercial construction is losing its appeal. A depression in residential growth means fewer malls, shopping plazas, offices and other commercial centers that support new homes and economic good times.

There are already signs out there to suggest that the commercial market may have already turned sour. On April 16, the nation’s second-largest mall developer, General Growth Properties, filed for bankruptcy protection. The Chicago-based company owns more than 200 malls across the U.S. In addition, there are many reasons out there to suggest that commercial construction was plagued by some of the loose lending practices that eventually unraveled the residential market.

How bad will it get? Well that depends on how fast the economic recovery takes hold. More than likely we’ll see commercial failures start to pile up slowly until they tumble down in an avalanche of bankruptcies and debt like the residential market did. Problem is that if a commercial mortgage wave hits the banks soon, it is likely to prolong our nation’s economic recovery for quite some time. Additional bank losses at a time when they are already depressed by home mortgage and credit card defaults will probably mean more government intervention and taxpayer assistance. Only time will tell.

Establishing the “Virtual Party Room”

In the recent article, Enter the Fourth Horsemen, published in the April 2009 issue of Franchise Times, Mark Siebert, Chief Executive Officer of the iFranchise Group identified Social Media as the next internet [franchise] lead generation site. In the article, Mark wrote, “The problem is that far too many franchisors view social media like guerilla marketing on steroids – easy opportunities for free publicity that can drive leads. But marketing on social media is neither free nor easy – and the shear number of people using the social media will not dictate the size of the opportunity.”

Let’s see what else has been written about Social Media and Franchising. Actually, in the same issue of Franchise Times, where Mark’s article was published, Nancy Weingartner, Franchise Times Editor wrote about it in her article, Citizen Marketing. At the end of the article, was a text block with the title, “The Top Five Social Media Mistakes” from Nick Powills of No Limit Media Consulting. The mistakes, clearly with franchising in mind, but applicable to other business segments as well, were identified as follows:

Five1. Not changing your franchise agreement to cover social media. Just like franchisors took control of their Web sites a decade or so ago, now they need to control what’s being said about the brand in social networking sites. In addition, start now to secure your company’s name in conjunction with YouTube, etc., just like you did URLs just a few years ago.

2. Not maintaining and updating your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or blogs. Once you train the public to visit your sites for updates or to post a comment, you’re obligated to follow through. Nothing is worse than ticking off the new citizen journalists.

3. Thinking you can do social marketing on your own. While you may have a marketing team in-house, they’re also charged with traditional advertising, PR and marketing. “You need someone to do it daily,” contends Nick Powills. And you also want someone who knows what they’re doing. Social media is not just PR in a trendy wrapper. You need someone who knows franchising and the “social” lingo.

4. Overpaying to outsource this service. Since it’s still fairly new, it’s hard to quantify how much a lead from social media actually is worth. Are you looking for franchisees or long-term customers? Do your due diligence – sound familiar?

5. Thinking Facebook, etc., are just for kids. Facebook may have started as networking for younger people, but take a look at who’s on it now. Some of the original kids’ grandparents are living their lives on their Facebook pages. Powills describes it as “LinkedIn on speed.”

So, does all this have your head spinning yet? Well, it should unless you take the journey of Franchise Development via Social Media one step at a time. You see, the real beauty of social media is the ability to start slow and progress at your own pace. And, there’s opportunity to learn each step of the way. Unlike developing website content, where a mistake glares at you and is difficult to correct, a mistake or error in social media is relatively easy to correct, and usually provides enough time to make the correction. Okay, enough of that but I just wanted to put your minds at ease in case you’re phobic about new technology, and new methods and processes. As for the top five social media mistakes listed above, please keep those in mind and use it as a reference as you progress on the journey of Franchise Development via Social Media.

Franchise Development via Social Media – Part One

Most people believe the first step in social media is to start networking right away. That’s is not the case but is a mistake made by most individuals and companies attemting to use social media as a way to grow a business. The first step is developing the strategy to begin social media marketing of which networking eventually becomes an essential element of the same.

So, the first step is to establish objectives in what you’re attemting to achieve by venturing into social media. The common reason I hear from franchisors is their desire to generate leads so they have candidates in the franchise sales pipeline. Actually, the main goal is to increase franchise sales so let’s call it what it is. Let’s take it a step further and identify the primary goal and objective as “generating qualified franchise leads that ultimately will lead to franchise sales and at a level that makes the social media effort worthwhile.”

Step two then, would be to identify your concept’s ideal franchise candidate profile. Who would be most likely to succeed as a franchisee in your system? If your system already has a relative number of franchisees, a profile of the most successful franchisees would help in this regard. Once, it is fully understood what type of individual you’re looking for as a franchise candidate, we’ll need to explore where to locate these individuals online. Do not shortcut this step as identifying your ideal franchise candidate is critical to the process.

The next step, will find you exploring various social networks and establishing company pages and profiles. Remember, you’re not networking yet. You’re just working on developing your social media infrastructure. Establishing company pages and profiles are key elements to the overall strategy because one of these sites will ultimately be your concept’s “virtual party room.” This party room, or “meeting place” or “landing page”, as I’ve referred to it in the past (“meeting place” is not exciting and “landing page” is too technical), is the place where all your social media efforts will culminate and turn an interested party into a franchise candidate. (For another perspective, may I refer you to another article on this site “Franchise Sales & Space Mountain: An Odd Comparison?”)

Group of peopleIt’s in this virtual party room that you’ll encourage attendance and participation by interested parties, franchisees, franchisee personnel, franchise customers, franchise company executives and personnel, and the concept’s vendors and suppliers. The goal is to establish a party where conversations about the concept, and its products and services, are happening all over the place. For instance, a discussion is started by a franchise candidate and is addressed by corporate personnel. A question is posted by a franchisee and several answers are submitted by various individuals. A video by the CEO is posted and is viewed and commented on by various individuals with different interests in the group and concept providing distinct perspectives. Positive comments (testimonials) are posted by customers. There are a hundred, two hundred, four hundred or more members of the group. There’s an information section listing the concept’s website, blogsite and other pertinent links. There may even be a media section with recent press releases or news stories about the concept and the franchisees.

Imagine now, directing your qualified franchise candidates, one at a time, to this party room. Picture it in-person as opposed to virtual and think about the conversations, the buzz in the room, and the excitement generated. The same is true in this virtual party room. Except, the virtual party continues to grow and grow over time and franchise candidates can visit over and over again, interacting with group members, developing key relationships and sharing information. All key components towards making an informed decision about your franchise concept. Mind you, we’ve jumped ahead and explored what the party would look like down the road a bit. But for now, we’re just establishing the place to hold the party.

The next step is to locate where the ideal franchise candidates are congregating online. For example purposes, let’s identify your ideal franchise candidate as female, with mid to upper level management experience within the financial services industry, and with school-age children. Now, let’s assume a few things. Individuals meeting this criteria may be re-entering the workforce after five or six years as a stay-at-home Mom. She may be exploring entrepreneurship as opposed to working in Corporate America once again. By virtue of her mid to upper level management experience it’s most likely safe to assume this indiviudal is well-educated and may have an advanced degree. Using these assumptions and criteria let’s find your ideal franchise candidates.

facebook_v_linkedinUsing LinkedIn or Facebook, you can explore various groups consisting of executives and relating to the financial services industry. You can also explore groups that pertain to startups, entrepreneurship and small busines ownership. Now, you will join a few of these groups and monitor the discussion groups. Again, you’re not networking yet but you are starting to participate in discussions, answering general questions, getting a feel for the “land” and exposing the group to small busines ownership, entrepreneurship and finally, to your concept. Once, members in the group start to request to connect, that’s when the actual networking begins. This is key. The networking only starts when individuals request to connect with you or your company, not the other way around by you asking them.

As you connect with individuals, you have access to their profile which includes work experience, level of expertise, recommendations, education, hobbies, etc. This host of information will provide you with the missing pieces to the ideal franchise candidate profile. It will also provide you a snapshot of other groups they’re involved in and may even include other social networks. If not, a Google search provides a wealth of additional information that can be explored. (When you have an opportunity, perform a Google search of Paul Segreto and you’ll see 10-12 pages of search results with 8-10 results on each page – you’ll be able to determine how I spend my time, who I’m working with and where I’m involved)

Over a short period of time, you’ll start referring individuals to your virtual party, asking them to invite their connections and so on. Simultaneously, you’ll introduce these individuals to your website and ask them to follow you on Twitter because you’ll already have established a Twitter ID. They’ll see how you promote other people on Twitter interact with you and will be exposed to how you promote yourself and your concept in that social network. At some point, you’ll have established a blog and will be referring individuals to your blogsite, and be able to track their interest and activity.

You’ve now built this multi-level web of social media activity that connects from one point to the other, backtracks to other relevant points and eventually winds up at the party. While enroute to the party, you’re learning a great deal about these people individually and they’re learning a great deal about your concept. As all this is occurring, you’re also increasing your concept’s search engine optimization but that is another story for another day. But it is an added benefit.

Tomorrow we’ll discuss interacting with the individuals within the virtual party and explore various methods of generating further interest in your concept while basically just “holding hands.”

I encourage you to leave any and all comments and questions below. I will respond accordingly prior to posting tomorrow’s segment in this four part series that is scheduled to run through Thursday.

Franchise Development via Social Media: Let the Journey Begin!

This week, a great deal of time will be spent on this site focusing on Franchise Development via Social Media. I’ll address the basics and identify how to integrate Web 2.0 technology and tools with traditional franchise marketing and development methods. The ultimate goal and objective to be achieved by these efforts will be to provide franchisors an effective way to generate franchise sales in today’s economic environment and beyond.

Now, before proceeding on our exciting journey, let’s not lose site of basic sales skills and the fact that franchise candidates must be treated professionally and with a sense of urgency. To that end, as a primer to this week’s journey of Franchise Development via Social Media, I am reposting below, the recent article posted on this site that referred to Franchise Update’s mystery shopping of franchise companies. Let’s keep the results focused in our minds and understand, regardless of what methods generate interest in a franchise concept, it still takes personal attention to detail, extreme professionalism, and diligent follow-up to successfully move any interested party from franchise candidate to franchisee.

Your participation is greatly encouraged and will certainly be appreciated. Please submit all comments and questions in the appropriate section at any time during the journey and I’ll respond as quickly as possible but definitely before the next day’s segment. I anticipate four segments in all, with one each evening through Thursday of this week. That will provide more than enough information to ponder over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

Without further delay, let the journey begin!

lagging-salesWhy Are Franchise Sales Lagging?
originally posted on this site March 24, 2009

Besides the obvious factors of economic uncertainty and tight credit, what other factors are contributing to dismal franchise sales across the industry? Are we contributing to the problem? Are we doing a disservice to franchise candidates, the very people exploring options for a better future?

Recently, Franchise Update’s own mystery shopping (posing as a qualified buyer and phoning in and emailing to 148 franchise companies who represented 57,000 units) revealed such fundamental flaws as:

no callback within 48 hours (58%);
not taking a name (24%);
not taking a phone number (45%) or email address (40%); and
not asking for a time frame for buying/opening a franchise (67%).

The ironic thing is that the industry routinely pays out 20-30-40% commission on franchise sales.

In light of recent poor performance and, high expense in actually awarding a franchise, can the franchise industry continue its franchise development efforts in the same manner as it has for the past ten or so years AND expect to grow?

What is Social Media Marketing?

social media marketing cartoonSo, we’ve already defined “Social Media” in a blog post earlier this week. Let’s take it a step further and see how Wikipedia defines “Social Media Marketing.”

According to Wikipedia, Social Media Marketing is an engagement with online communities to generate exposure, opportunity and sales. The number-one advantage is generating exposure for the business, followed by increasing traffic and building new business partnerships.[1]

Common social media marketing tools include Twitter, Blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.

In the context of Internet marketing, social media refers to a collective group of web properties whose content is primarily published by users, not direct employees of the property (e.g. the vast majority of video on YouTube is published by non-YouTube employees).

Social media optimization (SMO) is a set of methods for generating publicity through social media, online communities and community websites.

Social media marketing has two important aspects:

(1) Adding links to services such as Digg, Reddit and so that their pages can be easily ‘saved and submitted’ to and for these services.

(2) Building ways that fans of a brand or company can promote it themselves in multiple online social media venues.

Some social media marketers offer to write content (such as white papers) that are unique and newsworthy. This content can then be marketed by popularizing it or even by creating a “viral” video on YouTube and other video sites, including getting involved in blogs, forums, and niche communities. Others in the social media world consider this form of social media marketing Astroturfing or “fake grass roots”.

According to Lloyd Salmons, first chairman of the Internet Advertising Bureau social media council “Social media isn’t just about big networks like Facebook and MySpace, it’s about brands having conversations.”[2].

Supporting Salmons claim, Jim Tobin and Lisa Braziel liken rules of social media marketing to rules of etiquette commonly practiced at a cocktail party. In their book, Social Media is a Cocktail Party, the authors suggest rules of engagement commonly practiced at a cocktail party are often the same or similar rules for engaging others in social media spaces.

The parameters surrounding social media marketing are arguably elusive today. The trend is still so new many bloggers, public relations, marketing, and social media experts vary in their definition of what social media marketing entails. Nielson published [3] suggesting that blogs and social networks make up an emerging social web. The social web includes social media sites and is a location within which social media marketing might take place.


1. Social Media Marketing Industry Report
2. IAB appoints first social media council chair
3. Global Faces and Networked Places

The Top CMOs And Social Media Marketing On Twitter

the-big-cheeseWhat a great way to learn about social media marketing than by following the best of the best. The top Chief Marketing Officers on Twitter today, are listed below.

5,000+ Followers:

#1: Barry Judge
Chief Marketing Officer at Best Buy

#2: Scott Hoffman
Chief Marketing Officer at Lotame

3,000+ Followers:

#3: Jeffrey Hayzlett
Chief Marketing Officer at Kodak

#4: Kent Huffman
Chief Marketing Officer at BearCom Wireless

social-media-cartoon212,000+ Followers:

#5: Joanna Lord
Chief Marketing Officer at The Online Beat

#6: Sam Decker
Chief Marketing Officer at Bazaarvoice

#7: Jacob Morgan
Chief Marketing Officer at HiRank

#8: Nigel Dessau
Chief Marketing Officer at AMD

#9: Brett Greene
Chief Marketing Officer at Oxstein Design Labs

#10: Marian Salzman
Chief Marketing Officer at Porter Novelli

#11: Sam Mallikarjunan
Chief Marketing Officer at American Health

twitter-cartoon#12: Sonny Ganguly
Chief Marketing Officer at WeddingWire

1,000+ Followers:

#13: Tom O’Brien
Chief Marketing Officer at MotiveQuest

#14: Matt Browne
Chief Marketing Officer at MoreFocus

#15: Marc Poirier
Chief Marketing Officer at Acquisio

#16: Meg Smith
Chief Marketing Officer at American Booksellers Association

Social Networking and Business Growth: A Winning Combination

Social Networking is the perfect answer to growing your business, economic downturn or not.

networking-photosOver time, personal interaction within a social networking environment creates trust. In turn, it develops relationships, shares information, provides two-way communications, and provides points of reference for follow up. It creates a multi-tiered platform of information that benefits both business development and customer generation efforts alike. Often, simultaneously.

How are you using social networking (and Web 2.0 tools) to grow your business? Are you using LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to full benefit? Need some questions answered? Post them below and we’ll be sure to answer them. If we don’t have the answers you need, we’ll get them for you as soon as possible.

95% Will Maintain or Increase Social Media Spending

The following article about Social Media spending was originally posted on the Forrester Research website. We’re sharing this article because we feel it’s an excellent follow up to our last article about social media marketing. All trends are pointing towards significant increases in social media spending.

Recession resistant: 95% of social media marketers will maintain or increase social media spending
originally posted by Josh Bernoff

Last year, we surveyed interactive marketers and found a strong desire to continue investing in social applications, even with a recession looming. Now the recession is here. What are they saying now?

Based on a more recent survey from December of 2008, they still will maintain or increase their social media investments. The full statistics are in a new report by my colleague Jeremiah Owyang called “Social Media Playtime Is Over.” Remember, in late ’08 the recession was nearly as gloomy as how it looks now. And yet:

forrester-research-report11. More than half of interactive marketers plan increases in their social technology spending. (These stats are from 114 marketers currently using social media, out of the 145 interactive marketers we surveyed.) Only 5% plan decreases. Go ahead, name another marketing investment that’s anywhere near this strong in recessionary times.

2. The most rapidly growing categories are social networking, blogging, and user-generated content.

3. Remember that the base of this growth is small. While the marketers in this sample all come from companies with at least 250 people, three quarters of them are still spending $100,000 or less on these social technology projects. This is a drop in the bucket compared to other marketing expenditures.

This has reinforced what I’m hearing out there anecdotally, which is an awful lot of marketers asking for (and paying for) advice on this topic.

What’s driving this? As the executive summary of the report says:

These inexpensive tools can quickly get marketing messages out through interactive discussion and rapid word of mouth, and properly managed, can deliver measurable results.

The report includes recommendations for marketers. Here are some for my blog readers:

•If you are a marketer interested in social media, use these stats to get a realistic budget, then concentrate on measuring the results of your efforts to prove they work. Don’t dabble; dabblers will see their budgets cut. Social media playtime is over.

•If you are a consultant or recently laid off person, yes, this is a growth area. But it is one in which there are already an awful lot of experts. To become successful, concentrate on developing expertise in implementation, management, moderation, or measurement of social media efforts; that’s where the need appears to be, from the companies I speak with. In other words, social media playtime is over.

•If you are a technology vendor, case studies with proof of value will be far more effective than features, functions, and technology claims. If you can offer a consultative sale and handholding service, you’ll be a lot more likely to win clients and thrive in this space. Say it with me, now. Social media playtime is over.

Got it? What do you think? Is the recession halting social media efforts at your company, or encouraging them?

Huge Growth Projected for Social Media, Mobile and Email Marketing!

As the following article and graph points out, it is projected that social media marketing, mobile marketing and email marketing will experience huge growth through the year 2014. franchisEssentials has projected the same, and has geared up to provide clients comprehensive, technologically advanced marketing services and strategies. Complementing its own expertise and increasing success in social media marketing, franchisEssentials has recently aligned itself with several leading marketing and support organizations. To address email marketing and mobile marketing, it has entered into Strategic Partnerships with iVideo Makers (aka Franchise Video Makers) and Strategic Growth Concepts.

iVideo Makers bring an exciting combination of video and audio products that take email marketing to new levels of message delivery and professionalism. Quite frankly, nothing compares. It’s newest product, iVidMail is state-of-the-art and is used to create video email campaigns with extensive audio and video capabilities, complemented by an expansive tracking and reporting system.

Strategic Growth Concepts utilizes years of experience and expertise in mobile marketing and cellular technology to create successful mobile marketing campaigns for franchise organizations and independent small businesses alike. Utilizing more strategy than a particular product, and capitalizing on the increasing popularity of the iPhone and Blackberry, Strategic Growth Concepts keeps itself on the leading edge of the rapidly expanding mobile marketing market.

franchisEssentials has also entered into Strategic Partnerships with Arment Dietrich PR, Open Box, SmartFinds Marketing and AssociAD. These highly successful organizations are focused on public relations, custom software development and tech support, internet marketing and direct mail marketing, respectively. franchisEssentials is excited by its ability to offer clients extensive and comprehensive marketing and emarketing services, as a one-stop marketing and development company, for years to come.

Forrester Predicts Huge Growth for Social Media Marketing [and Mobile Marketing and Email Marketing]
as posted on Marketing Pilgrim Friday, April 24th, 2009 by Andy Beal

Forrester Research is holding its own conference (Forrester’s Marketing Forum 2009) down in Orlando and has just revealed its predictions for the growth of online advertising. The bottom line is that social media and mobile will be the hottest, but just about everything will see an upward trend.

Web 2.0 – A Jungle for Franchise Development

It's a Jungle CartoonFranchise Development is no stranger to change. The industry adapted well to the internet when it integrated its then traditional marketing at tradeshows with development of elaborate websites. Next, the industry adapted again as it integrated its marketing efforts and web presence with franchise consultants and brokers through a multitude of franchise portals.

Well, as Bob Dylan once wrote, “…the times they are a changing.” Much has been written and spoken about weeding through the many tire-kickers experienced on the internet, shuffling from one portal to the next with the same non-objective to “see what’s out there.” The franchise industry has literally seen thousands of these leads with no purpose, no chance of ever presenting a franchise opportunity.

Instead of trying to catch fish in a wide open ocean, why not direct your attention to the fish in a lake, pond or even, a barrel? That’s correct, a barrel! In searching for qualified franchise candidates, we, as an industry, need to locate the barrels of candidates that exist in the market today. How do we accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task? We need to embrace new technology and integrate the same with traditional efforts. Specifically, Web 2.0 (and Social Media) technology, and all it has to offer.

Unfortunately, Web 2.0 technology is so extraordinary, conisisting of many different aspects. Including such familiar buzzwords as social media, social networking, wikis, webinars, video sharing, blogs, podacasts, just to name a few, the thought of stepping foot into the Web 2.0 jungle is daunting, and therefore, often delayed. So, as the old adage of how one could eat an entire elephant (of course, one bite at a time), we need to take small bites out of the Web 2.0 elephant and step through the jungle carefully, one step at a time.

The following is a recent discussion on a blog by Michelle Bonat originally posted on October 1, 2008. Michelle discusses taking small steps towards integrating Social Media Marketing with classic (traditional) marketing programs.

Babysteps…How to integrate social media with traditional marketing programs

Social media marketing is most effective when it is an integrated part of your overall marketing efforts. But how do you jump into social media when you already have some really effective classic marketing programs in play? Here are a few ways you can babystep into the world of social media by leveraging the good stuff you already have.

1) Maintain a single consistent marketing strategy through classic and social media marketing.

Your goals, objectives and messages should be consistent across all of your marketing. Sounds simple, but unless you define and enforce this it won’t happen.

The good news here is that you don’t have to re-figure this all out just for social media. It is really just taking your existing marketing platform and extending it.

2) Extend your reach – Reach out to your influencers in ways that they like to communicate.

Use your existing marketing knowledge about who influences your product’s purchasing decisions, and use social media tools to create a discussion with them where they hang out.

Some specific examples: Are your influencers kids? Get on the social networks catering to the younger set. IT buyers? Figure out which bloggers are influencing this community. Mobile sales professionals? Deliver content in a mobile enabled way, such as Twitter.

3) Invite your customers into the process.

While you are planning your next product, refining your messaging, or even launching a marketing campaign, figure out a way to get your customers involved whenever possible as early as possible. When you do this they feel that they have been heard, feel more engaged and valued, which results in a tighter connection with your company and product. It also gives you the benefit of upfront input. A product that people actually want? Described in a manner that speaks to them? Wonderful!

A good way to on-ramp this customer involvement include online communities (public or private, even a public group on an existing social network). You can even ask them to deliver their thoughts in video form by way of a contest – “describe what our product means to you”.

4) Turn an online forum into a social media hub.

Make people feel more at home by adding profile information and allowing the posting of pictures (or pointers to a picture posting service like Flickr).

Recognize that you have to give to get. Start a genuine conversation with your audience by having company employees contribute to the forums in their own words. For example, instead of just asking for feature enhancements suggestions, tell them what direction you are headed and, if possible, the timing for these enhancements (without giving away too much info). Then ask them their opinion.

Try these few tips to help ease into a social media program that leverages your existing marketing – and you will soon be on your way!