Social Media and Franchise Sales: Look Ahead Before Jumping in with Both Feet

As many franchise professionals continue to explore new methods of recruiting franchise candidates, there’s been a great deal of discussion on how to incorporate social media into the mix. Sure, social media could be used to generate franchise leads. And, quite effectively. That, I have no doubt. But, it’s what comes after generating the leads that concerns me more. So, let’s take a look ahead, before jumping in with both feet on the front end.

Just like integrating traditional marketing strategies with social media strategies, it’s necessary to integrate personal interaction as well. However, instead of an aggressive, focused sales approach, the interaction should be subtle and guiding. Social media tools should be used to make points while making the experience enjoyable and interesting. Candidates will most likely marvel at the use of technology and feel comfortable learning about the franchise concept. And yes, they’ll be more comfortable and be fully at ease working through disclosure and the finer points of the concept itself.

The rest comes down to guiding candidates towards making a decision as it will now fully be an informed decision that has been validated by the social media experience AND the franchisees the candidates have come in contact with. Your franchisees will actually feel more a part of the franchise sales process than ever before. Go ahead and smile as this makes the process easier than in the past. Yes, it’ll be very nice to achieve franchise development goals once again.

Fantasy or Reality? Achievable or Not? Easy or Hard? That’s up to you and your team. It comes down to personal accountability, diligent execution of strategy and plan, professional handling of franchise candidates at all times and above all, NO SHORTCUTS!

Personal accountability is necessary in managing and monitoring social media activity, updating blog content and keeping things fresh. Nobody will stay at a dull party, right? Putting off things for tomorrow that should be done today is just not acceptable. It becomes a reflection of how even the simplest things are handled. A lack of urgency and poor attention to detail will translate into how the franchise sales process is handled, and then withered away.

Diligent execution of strategy and plan is essential. Certainly, adjustments will need to be made along the way. But the plan is your road map. Follow it as closely as possible. Allow extra time and resources as necessary for roadblocks and detours, but stay on course. Monitor your progress. How fast did you get from point A to point B? How fast did a candidate get from point A to Point B? Is the process slowing down or speeding up? Why? Do you need to do some system maintenance to the social media vehicle? Maybe your videos aren’t playing correctly? Maybe the photos aren’t loading fast enough? Maybe it’s time to bring in a “technician” so you can get back on the road as quickly as possible?

Professional handling of candidates means working with each candidate as you would want to be treated if you were the one on the verge of making a substantial investment, maybe putting your life savings on the line! It means conveying a sense of urgency when asked for information. It means paying attention to detail in something as simple as pronouncing their name correctly all the way to something complex such as full disclosure of the franchise concept. And, it means having the right attitude and conveying the same at every moment of working with the candidate at every point of “contact” including by email, on the phone, in-person, and yes, in the virtual world. Keep in mind, at all points of contact, your attitude will shine through so make sure it shines bright and your franchise future will shine bright as well!


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Utilizing Social Media for Franchise Success

I believe anything a franchisor does should be done to benefit the franchise relationship, and social media plays perfectly into this philosophy as it affords interactivity at all stages of the franchise relationship. From prospecting for qualified franchise candidates to supporting current franchisees, the utilization of social media tools and technology creates environments that strengthen 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 franchise development and customer generation efforts alike. Often, simultaneously.

For franchise startups, the founder’s vision of the concept is paramount to future success. They are perceived as the concept. They are essentially the brand. At least until a significant number of franchises are awarded and brand awareness is established across multiple markets, they are the inspiration for franchise candidates. The benefit to spreading this message through social media outlets such as social networking, video sharing, blogs, etc. is that these tools and associated strategies will generate direct excitement about the business model while generating subliminal, subtle interest in the franchise concept. This establishes a perfect foundation for growth. It also defines a very worthwhile, visible support mechanism for franchisees. Of course, it’s imperative to have a well-defined support system in place for training and assisting franchisees.

For established franchise brands, it’s a matter of improving brand awareness in current markets while creating brand awareness in new markets, and markets that are on the horizon for expansion. Again, as with startup franchise concepts, the interactivity created by social media makes it a viable option in driving customers to franchise locations and generating interest in the franchise concept. But, what’s important in a mature system, and a complement to its franchise development efforts, is the improvement of communications throughout the franchise system that is created by social media activity and ultimately lends itself to validation of the franchise concept by the franchisees. For once, franchisees are feeling part of the franchise development process as it’s visible in the organization’s social media efforts. Something that many franchisees have not been a part of in the past.


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Integrated Franchise Marketing For Franchise Success At All Levels

Integrated Franchise Marketing (IFM) is a term we use at franchisEssentials to describe a comprehensive approach to achieving multiple goals and objectives within start-up, 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 key to IFM is the development of a comprehensive marketing strategy that benefits the entire franchise organization, and is in line with the goals and objectives of all parties to the franchise agreement. It includes coordination at all levels to deliver concise, consistent messages that ultimately ensures positive results at franchisee and franchisor levels including:

Franchisee Level

* Local brand awareness
* Increased sales
* Improved communications with corporate office
* Improved communications with fellow franchisees
* Improved profitability
* Increased business value

Franchisor Level

* Regional & National brand awareness
* Increased royalty revenue
* Improved communications with franchisees
* Improved franchisee validation
* Increased interest in franchise concept
* Improved profitability

IFM works within traditional marketing methods and processes through and in conjunction with a very wide spectrum of non-traditional marketing and today’s unique, innovative tools and technology including the many aspects of social media, mobile, and email marketing. In addition, IFM encourages a cohesive, team effort at all levels of the franchise organization through information sharing and process awareness, enhanced by a solid educational approach.

As we are at the halfway point in 2010, and understanding that making things happen in the third quarter is crucial to overall success for the year, there’s no time like the present to develop and implement a plan that will help all within your franchise organization achieve their goals and objectives.

For more information about utilizing Integrated Franchise Marketing (IFM) within your franchise organization please contact Paul Segreto by email or by phone at 832.838.4822.


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Exclusive Mobile Marketing Program for Franchise Organizations

Are your franchisees struggling for new customers, or to get more business from their existing customers, in today’s difficult economic environment

Do your franchisees complain that they can’t afford to advertise to get more customers?

Does your corporate staff have a difficult time getting franchisees to read important emails or updates on the company Intranet?

Does your franchise development staff need additional methods of generating leads for prospective franchisees?

Would you like an easy-to-use, high ROI, low-cost way to solve these problems?

If so, please continue reading because Mobile Marketing is the answer!

Studies have shown that mobile marketing has the highest ROI of any direct marketing medium, are read by 97% of recipients within 15 minutes, and because 84% of consumers keep their cell phone within 10 feet of them at all times, mobile messages have an AVERAGE response rate of 15%.

Strategic Partnership Benefits Franchise Industry

And we can help your franchise organization take advantage of this incredible marketing medium through a new strategic partnership between franchisEssentials and Strategic Growth Concepts, who recently entered into an agreement to become a Certified Solutions Provider for a leading Mobile Marketing services firm.

Because of franchisEssentials Integrated Franchise Marketing initiatives, we have requested and received authorization from our strategic partner and the Mobile Marketing services firm to offer a special Franchise Incentive Program for franchise organizations interested in taking advantage of the benefits of Mobile Marketing.

FREE Mobile Marketing Account

For a limited time only, we’re offering franchisors a FREE mobile marketing account for the corporate office that achieves a minimum percentage of franchisees signing up to participate in the program individually. And the FREE corporate account remains in force as long as the franchise system maintains the minimum percentage of franchisees also participating in the program! And we’ll help sign them up!

This means that your franchisees can begin sending unlimited text messages for as little as $25 per month, and the corporate office can begin sending them for FREE! Since text messages are typically read within 15 minutes and have an exceptional ROI, franchisees can start increasing revenue immediately, and you can start generating franchisee leads, marketing on a chain-wide basis, and communicating more effectively with your current franchisees!

Franchise Organizations Are Using Mobile Marketing

Click the links below to learn how several franchise organizations are using Mobile Marketing, and the successful results they’re experiencing:

Little Caesar’s Mobile Campaign Nets 62% Opt-in

Popeye’s Mobile Campaign Garners 54% Opt-in

Mobile Marketing Ideas from National Brands

Learn More About Our Special Offer and New Mobile Club

If you would like to learn more about Mobile Marketing and to take advantage of this special offer, please TEXT the word FRANCHISE to 244326. This will opt your organization in to franchisEssentials Mobile Club, and notify us to schedule a FREE demonstration for your organization.

Members of our Mobile Club will be eligible for future special offers, and will receive weekly tips on using Mobile Marketing to benefit your business. If you prefer not to join the Mobile Club but would still like to receive the FREE demonstration, contact us by email at paulsegreto@FMDpro.com. Please be sure to mention keyword FRANCHISE.


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Are You Getting Positive Bottom Line Results From Your Social Media Efforts?

Social media has definitely gone mainstream and many franchise organizations have embraced it for a variety of reasons. Some are utilizing it to create or improve brand awareness. Others are using it to drive business to franchise locations and/or to create interest in their franchise opportunity. And many have embraced it just because they believe they must, or feel they may miss the proverbial boat.

In any event, there are questions that franchise executives should be realistic about in answering as they continue their social media efforts and work towards effectively integrating the same with traditional marketing.

* What are the objectives for using social media within our franchise system?
* Has a comprehensive social media strategy been developed consistent with our goals?
* Are our social media efforts integrated with our overall marketing strategy?
* Are our social media efforts specifically targeted for optimum effectiveness?
* Are we effective in our social media efforts?
* What are our bottom line results?

Although all six questions listed above are important in evaluating your social media strategy and efforts, the last two questions may be the most important. Truly knowing and understanding the level of effectiveness of your social media efforts, and it’s affect on your bottom line, is essential to achieving your franchise marketing and development goals and objectives.

That’s where franchisEssentials can help!

FREE Social Media Assessment ($1200 Value)

franchisEssentials FREE Social Media Assessment has been designed exclusively for franchise organizations. Basically, the assessment is a 48-step Social Media Checkup that evaluates primary and secondary elements of social media efforts, explores franchise-related issues within social media messages, identifies specific opportunities per established and defined goals and objectives, establishes a baseline for quantifying and analyzing social media metrics, and provides a grade for each specific social media component being utilized as well as for the entire social media program.

Upon completion of the FREE Social Media Assessment, a debriefing session is scheduled to explain the results of our findings in full, concise detail and to provide best-practice recommendations for improvement in specific social media efforts, and for the social media program itself. Including the preliminary meeting which typically takes approximately 30-45 minutes, the actual assessment and evaluation, and the debriefing session which takes 45-75 minutes, the total process should be completed within four days.

Ask yourself the questions listed above, and unless your answers are honest and provide you will full satisfaction in your current social media efforts, we strongly suggest you take full advantage of franchisEssentials FREE Social Media Assessment. It really does make good business sense to do so!

Start Now!

To schedule a preliminary meeting, and/or to learn more about this FREE service or any of our franchise marketing and development services, please contact Paul Segreto by email or by phone at 832.838.4822.


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Mobile Marketing in a Franchise Environment

SGC BannerThe following article was written by Guest Author, Linda Daichendt. Linda is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant at Strategic Growth Concepts, a consulting firm that specializies in start-up, small and mid-sized businesses.

During my recent guest appearance on a segment of the FranchisEssentials Show on BlogTalkRadio, we discussed briefly how franchise organizations can benefit from Mobile Marketing. I thought it might be useful to expand on that discussion by providing show co-hosts Paul Segreto and Joel Libava (The Franchise King) with a listing of more ways in which franchise organizations can benefit from the use of Mobile Marketing. The following are a few of my thoughts on this topic:

With Franchisees/Potential Franchisees

• Provide consistent messaging to franchisees regarding upcoming deadlines or special events via text messages, voice messages, or mobile websites
• Receive inquiries from potential franchise candidates asking to receive initial franchise information and to request initial contact
• Send messages via voice mail or text to relay the date for upcoming potential franchise candidate seminars based upon those earlier registrations
• Have franchise seminar attendees complete a survey about the event and indicate interest in continuing conversation

With Consumers

• Mobile contest registrations
• Mobile customer loyalty program registrations
• Fitness franchises; sign up consumers for FREE introductory visit and/or post exercise class schedules for existing members
• Restaurants; allow consumers to make reservations
• Plumbing, locksmith, electrician, other trade franchises; post emergency numbers on mobile websites, allow consumers to contact you via text at those numbers
• Distribute coupons to registered consumers
• Provide information regarding upcoming sales and/or discounts available
• Have consumers complete surveys about products/services
• Restaurants; allow consumers to place food orders in advance for pick-up or immediate seating upon arrival
• Restaurants/fast food; allow consumers to place food orders for delivery
• Utilize GPS mobile technology to notify registered consumers who drive into a targeted geographic area about a limited-time (1 hr) only offer to initiate immediate response
• Real estate franchises can send home listings to potential buyers for review and selection
• Real estate franchises can add an SMS code (text number) to the signs posted at each listing which will enable consumers to indicate an interest in seeing the house; and enable real estate agents to respond immediately
• Maid services franchises and other trade franchises; allow consumers to schedule appointments via mobile
• Fitness clubs/tanning salons/hair salons; allow consumers to schedule appointments and/or send appointment cancellations and/or request re-schedules
• Fitness clubs/tanning salons; allow consumers to make monthly payments via mobile
• Florists/candy store/gift store franchises; allow consumers to place orders for delivery
• Florists/candy store/gift store franchises; allow consumers to check on status of orders placed
• Florists/candy store/gift store franchises; distribute special offers to registered consumers to encourage early ordering during peak seasons such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day

Obviously, this list is in no way comprehensive as the ways that Mobile Marketing can be utilized by franchise organizations are limited only by your imagination. Mobile provides an extremely cost-effective and efficient method of reaching target audiences. It works well as a stand-alone marketing strategy, but works extremely well as part of a multi-media strategy in which all media being utilized are integrated for maximum effectiveness.

If your firm is interested in learning more about Mobile Marketing and the ways in which your firm can benefit from its use, please visit the Mobile Marketing section of our website, or contact me directly at linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com and indicate you were referred by FranchisEssentials in order to receive your FREE one-hour Mobile Marketing consultation.

Integrating Social Media with Traditional Franchise Marketing

The first segment of Franchise Development via Social Media described how to establish the “Virtual Meeting Room” as the online site to enable interested parties to gather and share information about your franchise concept. The second segment of this four part series, explored the path of guiding an interested party through the virtual meeting room, enhancing the experience with videos, photos and a multitude of Web 2.0 tools, until the individual transitions from general to specific interest and evolves into a franchise candidate. At this point, the franchise candidate is primed to move through the franchise sales process and make an informed decision about his or her entrepreneurial future. Interacting with the candidate throughout the time spent in the virtual meeting room enables your executive committee to make an informed decision as to whether or not the candidate should be awarded a franchise in your system.

anne-indecisiveNot convinced that a social media strategy will help you achieve your franchise development objectives? That’s understandable as it is certainly new, and as such, is difficult to measure for complete efficiency and effectiveness. Basically, there really isn’t anything to measure it against. So, if it doesn’t work, for whatever reason, you need to be prepared and have a back up plan. Is that your thinking? If it is, you’re partially correct in thinking this way. I say, partially, because you should transition into any new marketing approach, and the best way to do so, is to integrate the old with new, the traditional with the innovative.

I also say, partially, because a back up plan, running simultaneously, is a double expenditure and as such may cause you to shortcut the new strategy justifying your decision as you being more comfortable with the old strategy anyway. But keep in mind, the old has been losing its effectiveness over the past few years and today’s franchise candidates are trending away from old methods of exploring business opportunities so change is necessary. Fortunately, you can move into social media at your own pace and slowly transition away from traditional strategies while maintaining the total marketing efforts necessary to achieve your objectives.

Now, let’s look at some of the traditional marketing you might have used in past franchise development efforts and see how you can integrate the same with social media. Over time, you may transition completely out of the traditional methods or may opt to keep some in place, at reduced levels than in the past, and as dictated by the franchise development results achieved by the total efforts.

franchises_availableTraditional strategy: Tapping your current franchise network for customers that may be interested in your franchise concept. Various costly marketing tools include newsletters, post cards, in-store signage and printed materials. Approaching customers should be effective as they’re basically the low-hanging fruit that should be easily picked. Customers know the concept and are generally satisfied with the product or services. They’ve seen how busy the franchise unit is and have experienced the growth of the brand in the market.

Social media strategy: Invite franchise customers to the company’s social networking site and encourage them to participate. On the site, they’ll see videos and photos as we’ve described in parts one and two of this series. The effectiveness of this interaction is far stronger than introducing customers to the possibility of owning their own franchise through cumbersome print materials that get left in the back of the car or get discarded. Certainly the interactivity of the social network site blows away the message being told in print.

Traditional strategy: Advertising in local and national media for individuals interested in small business ownership, franchising and hopefully, your franchise concept. This is an expensive proposition as print advertising is very specific to a local market and multiple markets may be necessary to grow effectively. Or, the national publication costs are cost prohibitive for the size of your concept.

Social media strategy: Blogs are today’s media. Blog writers are today’s journalists. Through tags and various Web 2.0 tools (widgets), content is spread across the internet to multitudes of bloggers that ultimately wind up discussing and promoting your concept. As discussed in previous parts to this series, social network groups can be targeted to attract franchise candidates according to the ideal franchise profile you’ve created. This makes your actual sales efforts more concentrated to actual qualified candidates as opposed to dealing with the swarm of tire-kickers from print media.

lemonTraditional strategy: Portal websites became very popular as the internet gained steam in both popularity and daily usage. Unfortunately, now there are so many portals that regurgitate leads across the internet that many portal leads have been contacted by 10-20-30 different “franchise experts.” This has created a “used car salesman” effect that has actually turned people that may have been interested in franchising, totally against the industry.

Social media strategy: Similar to the strategy identified above as the alternative to advertising in local and national media. And, instead of an interested party being directed to specific information, the social media effort gradually presents the facts and information about the franchise while encouraging interaction with the entire franchise family. This goes a long way towards building trust, an essential component to the franchise sale.

Traditional strategy: Personally, I believe franchise expos and tradeshows are quickly becoming a thing of the past. First, it’s just too expensive to send a team of representatives to man a trade booth in some city outside the city where the corporate headquarters is located. Further, people are intimidated by salespeople and prefer instead to search for opportunities online in a non-intimidating environment, and at their own pace.

Social media strategy: With the wealth and breadth of information available online, an individual’s computer is in essence, a virtual tradeshow or franchise expo. Why should an individual interetsed in franchising go anywhere else? However, it’s not good enough to just have a website. A website is static and two-dimensional. Instead, a blog and social network page, again as we’ve previously described, is essential to stand out from the crowd and create an interactive forum where the franchise candidate can learn and share information towards making an informed decision. Again, at his or her own pace and without feeling intimidated.

Non-traditional strategies: There’s a multitude of fairly new strategies that have been utilized in franchise development efforts. One, email marketing, is effective to an extent. Email blasts have become very common and have had a relative level of success. Except, it’s starting to become stagnant as more and more companies have launched extensive email campaigns and the excitement of yesterday is gone today. Most people now look at email marketing as spam and actually block it whenever and however they can.

email-vs-social-mediaSocial media strategies: Welcome to video email marketing. Or, as is commonly referred to as vidmail marketing. Actually, let’s call it email on steroids! Videos, an essential Web 2.0 tool, can be transfered to blogs and social networks to enhance the experience and more importantly, convey a consistent message in a dynamic form. People remember 10% of what they read. 20% of what they hear. And 30% of what they see. But, remember 50% of what they see AND hear together. So, which is it, email or vidmail?

A recent blog post on The Buzz Bin, defined some basic “musts” for fluid integration of social media. They include:

•Ensuring overarching value proposition and related communications are available in social web when dialogue naturally permits
•Cross-promotion of URLS and calls-to-action through web, mobile and print media for giving, tell-a-friend, webinars, etc.
•Spotlight third party coverage from blogs in the press room
•Advertising: Word of mouth is buoyed by advertising, so social media efforts should be tied to ad campaigns for print, online and keyword marketing. “Connect on Facebook” and other similar calls-to-action should start becoming common aspects of your ad campaigns.
•Public relations: Integrating willing online influencers as part of your outreach is essential.
•Emails: Any email sent from an organizational property should also include a call-to-action for the social web. Think about this: People reading email are already online.
•Website: Prominent first screenview promotion of social media properties needs to be developed for the 1.0 site. We recommend a clean badge or clearly delineated text.
•Cross promotion of social web activities. Badges should link to a portal site that unites all of your social media properties (once you develop them). Then use the portal as the home page and calls-to-action site for all online activity

Certainly, this list is far more technical than the explanations provided in this series but they correspond very well and should be used as a guide when executing your plan to integrate social media with traditional strategies.

Tomorrow, we’ll be closing out the series with Part 4 of Franchise Development via Social Media. Our last segment will tie everything together to make increased franchise sales a reality as opposed to a vision, or fantasy. We’ll also touch on basic sales skills necessary to add the personal touch that is so essential to closing the sale.

In the meantime, please list your questions and comments in the space provided below, and I will respond accordingly prior to releasing the last part of the series.

Franchise Success and Web 2.0

web-20-logos1I believe anything a franchisor does should be done to benefit the franchise relationship and Web 2.0 plays perfectly into this philosophy as it affords interactivity at all stages of the franchise relationship. From prospecting for qualified franchise candidates to supporting current franchisees, the utilization of Web 2.0 tools creates environments that strengthen 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 franchise development and customer generation efforts alike. Often, simultaneously.

For franchise startups, the founder’s vision of the concept is paramount to future success. They are perceived as the concept. They are essentially the brand. At least until a significant number of franchises are awarded and brand awareness is established across multiple markets, they are the inspiration for franchise candidates. The benefit to spreading this message through Web 2.0 outlets such as social networking, video sharing, blogs, etc. is that these tools and associated strategies will generate direct excitement about the business concept while generating subliminal, subtle interest in the franchise concept. This establishes a perfect foundation for growth. It also defines a very worthwhile, visible support mechanism for franchisees.

Has social networking become a component of your marketing strategy?

linkedin-logo2facebook2Has social networking become a component of your marketing strategy? What aspects of Web 2.0 are being used to to generate interest in your business? to actually drive customers to your business?

An author of a recent article in USA Today lists his top ten trends for small business in 2009. Several of the trends include Web 2.0, Blogs and Social Networking. The link to the article is listed below.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/smallbusiness/columnist/strauss/2009-01-05-top-trends-for-small-business_N.htm

Marketing in a Recession

Increase or decrease marketing efforts? Check out the previously printed statement that was recently forwarded to me in a discussion about marketing efforts during a recession.

“Research shows it’s not a good idea to eliminate marketing efforts during a down economy just to save money on your bottom line. Did you know that McGraw-Hill Research found that companies that maintained or increased their marketing efforts throughout the 1981-82 recession saw an average sales growth of 275% over the next five years? But those who cut their marketing saw a paltry 19% sales growth over the same time period.”