Social Media… A Jungle for Franchising?

Franchising 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, Social Media and all it has to offer.

Social Media is truly extraordinary, consisting of many different aspects beyond the familiar LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. There are wikis, webinars, blogs and podcasts, just to name a few. But there are others as well. To the many, the thought of stepping foot into this jungle is daunting, and therefore, the journey continues to be delayed. So, as the old adage of how one could eat an entire elephant (of course, one bite at a time), it’s necessary to take small bites out of the Social Media elephant and step through the jungle carefully, one step at a time – using all the tools at our disposal to reach our destination… our objective.

The following is a discussion on a blog by Michelle Bonat originally posted in 2008 but still very relevant today. 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!

Note: This post was revised from earlier post on this site, “Web 2.0 – A Jungle for Franchise Development” (Mar 2009)


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The NEW Golden Rule!

The following article has been submitted by Guest Author, Frank Again. Frank is the Founder and President of AmSpirit Business Connections, a national franchise organization that empowers entrepreneurs, sales representatives and professionals to become more successful through networking and developing stronger business relationships.

amspiritPrior to founding AmSpirit Business Connections, Frank developed the largest territory of Network Professionals Inc., a similar organization. In addition, for ten years he operated a successful law practice in Columbus, Ohio focusing on the creation, growth and sale of small business enterprises. After completing law school and graduate business school at the Ohio State University, Frank started his career as a tax consultant with Coopers & Lybrand.

Frank has authored and published a book entitled Foundational Networking: Creating Know, Like & Trust For A Lifetime of Extraordinary Success. The premise of Foundational Networking is that the most important aspect of successful professional networking is not our skills or knowledge of the process, but rather our attitudes and habits with respect to presence, altruism, and integrity. Foundational Networking is a culmination of his life experiences, observations and research as it relates to the components of these attributes.foundational-networking

The NEW Golden Rule!
as submitted by Frank Agin

If you ask most anyone in serious networking circles what the Golden Rule of Networking is, they we reflectively respond, “Give First, Get Second.” While there is lots of truth in that answer, it is not the complete answer. It can’t be, as there is much more to successful networking than just giving.

Networking is about developing relationships with other people and then (while contributing to the lives of others) parlaying those relationships into things that benefit you …referrals … information … other contacts.

So the key to successful networking is getting lots of great people interested in you. This, however, almost begs the question, “How do I get people interested in me?”

The best way to answer that is to ask yourself this, “Why do I want to network with certain people?” After all, it only makes sense that the reasons why you want to network with certain people are likely the same reasons why others would want to network with you.

With that simple revelation, it makes perfect sense that if you adopt the same characteristics, attitudes and habits of the people you want to network with, then others will want to network with you.

In very simple terms, you need to become the person you want to network with. This is the NEW Golden Rule of Networking.

So, answer this: Who do you want to network with? In the most general of terms, you want to network with people that you know, like and trust. However, you need to drill down into more specific questions, such as …network<

• What do you want to KNOW about others?
• What makes you LIKE others?
• What builds your TRUST in others?

If you really think about it and work to uncover the answers to these three questions, then you have found out exactly why you want to network with other people.

More importantly, however, this exercise reveals to you exactly the person you need to become to get other people to want to network with you. Again, become the person you want to network with.

To get at this, take a moment to examine each of these questions.

What do we want to KNOW about others?

For example, you cannot help but be impressed by the doers of the world, as those that go the extra mile for company, community or country always seem to have a following. Why not become one?

What other qualities in people do you admire? Sense of humor? Optimism? Courage? Endeavor to take those on.

Become the person you want to network with.

What makes us LIKE others?

As with most people, you cannot help but like people who like you and as such you want to be around people who seem to take a liking to everyone. With that little nugget, you should find a reason to like everyone and do all you can to express it as genuinely as possible.

What other characteristics in people do you find attractive? Compassion? Thoughtfulness? Generosity? You should seek to adopt those mindsets. Become the person you want to network with.

What builds our TRUST in others?

Admit it, you have a natural trust for the person who does what they say they are going to do. With that, you should become the person upon which others can rely.

What traits in other people make them trustworthy in your eyes? Conscientious? Honest? Open-Minded? You should try to mimic these behaviors. Become the person you want to network with.

Yes, giving to the world around you quietly inspires others to give that generosity back. If, however, you endeavor to mirror the characteristics, attitudes and habits of those you aspire to network with, legions of others will strive to network with you – giving you much more in the end.