Is Owning a Franchise in Your Future?

For many individuals that explore franchising as the next step in their career, as a way to control their own destiny or as a way to create a family business understanding the process can be quite overwhelming. Below are several articles by franchise experts that will help interested parties diligently navigate the process to help create a playing field that is best for them as opposed to seeing them aimlessly tiptoe through a minefield consisting of franchising’s good, bad and ugly.

If you’re thinking of becoming a franchisee, how should you prepare yourself?

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Buying a franchise can be a great move for a would-be entrepreneur who doesn’t want to create a new business from scratch. In theory, franchisees acquire a model that already works on every level, from branding to pricing to marketing. A ready clientele eagerly spends on Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s and 7-11. The market has tested the best recipes for glazed crullers, Egg McMuffins and the right combo of energy drinks to stock next to the register. But making a go as a successful franchisee can be a lot more complicated than simply finding an appealing brand and plunking down some cash. For a taste of what can go wrong, see Forbes’ piece about the problems at sandwich franchise Quiznos, which paid $206 million to settle a suit brought by franchisees who claimed the chain had oversold its markets and excessively marked up supplies.

Read more…

How to Buy A Franchise

Contrary to popular belief, the process of buying a franchise isn’t really difficult-but it is a process. I’ve found, (through working one-on-one with thousands of potential franchise owners) that it’s really important to tackle a major life decision like the purchase of a franchise business-or any type of business, in a very methodical way. (Even if you’re not a methodical person!)

But you need to realize that buying a franchise is a big deal. It could potentially be life-changing. That’s what you want, isn’t it?

After all, you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you wanted to just go out and find a new job -or keep the one you have.

With that in mind, kick off your shoes and grab your favorite beverage. In this article, Joel Libava, The Franchise King shows exactly how to buy a franchise.

Read more…

Why Owning A Franchise Business Is Good For Your Family

Many entrepreneurs choose to become small-business owners with an exit strategy of turning over the business to their children one day — a strategy that takes on more importance in an era where young people are struggling to find gainful employment. Children who begin working in the family business at a young age will typically start an ascension into management after college, with an eye on purchasing some or all of the family business as their parents head into retirement. Often, the parents will retain a percentage of the business as a revenue stream in retirement, adding an extra level of responsibility for the child as a steward of their parents’ nest egg.

Even if they don’t stay in the family business, studies show that parental entrepreneurship increases the probability of children’s entrepreneurship by about 60%. Children of entrepreneurial parents have already experienced many of the ebbs and flows of small-business ownership, which helps to mitigate their fears and raise their risk tolerance.

Read more…

Learning About Franchising

During research for Franchise Bible, 8th Edition, author, Rick Grossman found that the franchise industry had changed in many ways over the years. Technology has had the biggest impact by modifying buying behaviors. Not too many years ago, franchise buyers would find an opportunity in Entrepreneur magazine or by attending a franchise expo in-person. They would then go through the franchisor’s respective step-by-step process to qualify, purchase and launch their franchises. But today, buyers can find a plethora of information online about nearly any franchise they want to learn about. This has leveled the playing field for new innovative companies to compete favorably with the “big boys” in the marketplace.

Read more…

Are you ready to own your own franchise or expand your current franchise portfolio?

Facts & Perspective on the Future of Franchising

franchise imageTwo out of three isn’t bad. In fact, in baseball that would be a phenomenal batting average never even remotely approached. A winning season percentage? Well, it has been done in several professional sports. However, what I’m referring to are leading stories last week (see below) about franchising. Two of three were positive with growth statistics for franchising shared and the power of the franchise model defined. The other presented as somewhat of a negative perspective on family-owned franchises as being less productive than non family-owned businesses.

In any event, I’d love to see more study done on family-owned franchises and how the notion of underperformance may vary from one industry segment to another. My thought on this focuses on the potential differences between multiple generations of families that own Dunkin’ Donuts franchises as opposed to families that may own a non-food brand that may be more inclined to rely on the performance of one, two or several key staff members. I’d also like to explore the difference between single-unit and multi-unit ownership by families. Any takers to start the discussion?

“Regulations have been trimmed, taxes have been cut, and, as a result, the franchise community has continued its economic momentum. As we move into 2018, we expect lawmakers will remain steadfast in their support for a strong business environment,” said Robert Cresanti, IFA President and CEO in a statement.

The franchise industry is set for another year of major growth!

Franchise establishments are set to grow by 1.9 percent to 759,000 locations after increasing 1.6 percent in 2017, while employment will increase 3.7 percent to 8.1 million workers after growing 3.1 percent in 2017. The gross domestic product of the sector is forecast to increase by 6.1 percent to $451 billion, and will contribute approximately 3 percent of U.S. GDP in nominal dollars, according to the report. Franchise business output will also increase 6.2 percent to $757 billion. The forecast follows a year of slower growth in 2017, mirroring trends seen the year prior in terms of employment and output. Read more.

Family-owned franchises underperform, study finds.

A new study that involved a Ball State University researcher found family-owned franchisees post 6.7 percent lower sales per employee than other franchise owners of restaurants and other chain businesses. “It boils down to the fact that often, family-owned franchises have different objectives as compared to their counterparts,” said Srikant Devaraj, a researcher with Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research. Read more.

Will franchise leaders embrace a new future state of franchising?

A relatively misunderstood business model, with a paucity of academic support, franchising is on the precipice of history.  Defined by the Federal Trade Commission as an ongoing commercial relationship that includes a license to a brand, payment of a modest fee and the existence of significant control or support, the average consumer knows it as Subway, McDonald’s or Anytime Fitness.  In layman terms, a chain of businesses that share a common brand and a consistent customer experience owned by a local consumer.  But the traditional methodology of franchising has been supplanted by an ever-growing array of hybrid formulations that increasingly are revealing the real power of this enigmatic model. Read more.

Franchise Social Media – Beyond the Basics [REVISITED]

The following is an updated article that was originally posted on several sites online including Franchising.com and in-part right here in this blog. As social media continues to be a significant component of a franchise brand’s digital footprint and an essential element in direct or complementary franchise development efforts, I thought it prudent to update and re-post accordingly.

What is Franchise Social Media?

blog-mcdonalds_mom_bloggersBasically, Franchise Social Media is more than just social media. It’s the application and utilization of social media within a franchise system. Sure, many of the same principles apply, but franchising is different than most small business models. It’s unique in many ways beyond the typical B2B or B2C model. There are specific disclosure laws that are a major part of the franchise candidate recruitment process. Even from a consumer proposition standpoint, the integrity of the entire franchise organization must be considered. And, one cannot discuss social media in a franchise environment without touching upon guidelines, policies and procedures, and brand uniformity.

So, Franchise Social Media is how social media is utilized to not only fit within the various levels of franchising, messaging and content must be considered. It must be integrated within processes and methods across and within all franchise marketing and development efforts. Certainly, utilizing social media within franchising is more than just asking an administrative assistant to set up Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts and post and tweet away; especially, without a purpose or specific objective, and definitely not without a well-defined plan of action.

Despite what many marketing professionals believe, Franchise Social Media must be more than what is defined and implemented across most small business segments. The interdependency of the franchise relationship, the franchise dynamic, if you will, must be considered and focused upon as a social media plan is put into action. At all times, the question, “How does today’s activity affect others within the organization?” must be on the forefront of administrators’ minds as they post, tweet, connect, and engage every day! A simple mistake can send a ripple effect throughout an organization. A major error, which could include a slow reaction to a potential crisis (remember Dominos employees’ You Tube video?), could be akin to a tsunami racing ashore at 500 miles an hour, with little or no warning to the people (franchisees) along the coast, and possibly inland as well.

Are you afraid or frightened yet? Are your thoughts circling around the decision to just continue to leave social media alone? Or, if you’re already entrenched within social media, are you now considering slowing down, pulling back on your efforts, or maybe even bailing out altogether? Well, you shouldn’t be afraid or frightened, and certainly, you should not bail out. Actually, there truly needs be more focus beyond the basics of social media, with a very detailed, comprehensive plan to direct efforts specifically to Franchise Social Media.

At Franchise Foundry we still utilize a basic acronym of e-IDEA (originated back to our earlier company, FranchisEssentials) as a guideline when developing franchise social media strategies for clients. The acronym translates to Explore, Identify, Develop, Execute and Analyze. Five easy steps to keep in mind and remember to remain focused and stay on track in your efforts.

EXPLORE

In the initial stages of a developing a Franchise Social Media plan, it is essential to review current levels of general social media proficiency throughout the organization. This includes the franchisee base as well. Determine not only who within the organization is proficient, but within which social media platforms they excel. Be sure not forget the enjoyment factor!

For instance, if franchisees are utilizing videos and photos effectively within their efforts, it’s safe to say that video and photo sharing should be integral components of the franchise social media strategy. Explore further for individuals within the organization that enjoy photography and video production. Having these individuals interact with marketing professionals bring new perspective to the process, especially as they will also bring practical perspective of working within the franchise organization at different levels.

PodcastThe same holds true for individuals within the organization who are most proficient and passionate about training, and are fully versed on internal training processes and procedures. It lends to being able to bring other aspects of social media to the table – webinars being the most obvious. The less obvious, but very effective includes internet radio for podcast replays or on-demand access, and video again, for sharing simple or more complex information.

Upon exploring various types of social media and the increasing number of tools available including social media management software along with determining the proficiency and enjoyment/passion levels within the franchise organization, it is then the correct time to step into the Identify stage.

IDENTIFY

Here’s where Franchise Social Media really starts to make practical sense as this stage fosters thought about the ultimate objectives of the franchise organization. Most believe this stage is entirely focused on identifying targets. However, identifying targets is only a portion of this stage.

Identifying objectives within a franchise organization is where Franchise Social Media separates itself from basic social media as there are typically many objectives to define, including increasing business at the franchisee level, improving brand awareness, creating interest in the franchise opportunity, and developing or strengthening communications throughout the system. Much of this process is unique to franchising as franchise law and the franchise relationship both need to be taken into consideration. Proceeding ahead without these considerations could result in significant consequences at various levels.

In identifying objectives, it’s most likely apparent there are multiple targets to attract. Within the consumer proposition the targets will be customers, but are they retail customers, business customers, or both? For franchise lead generation, there may be multiple targets that could be attracted in different ways. For example, attracting a transitioning executive may take a different approach than attempting to attract a transitioning executive from a specific industry segment.

Next, in this stage is identifying where all these targets communicate and congregate online. This is often an ignored component of a social media strategy, and one that would specifically lead to the strategy being non-effective. After all, what use is it to broadcast a message if it is not known where to broadcast the message so it will be heard by the target audience? Identifying the online locale of the target audience is critical to the success of the program, but it’s also critical to identify if the target audience is communicating within that locale.

DEVELOP

The results of the two previous stages provide the foundation for which the Franchise Social Media strategy should be built. Without the proper foundation, the strategy structure would be flat, lineal and two-dimensional. With a firm, well-defined foundation, the strategy will rise to a cross-platform, multi-tiered structure with communications lines running across the structure, to and from different points.

Franchise Social MediaEssentially, it can be looked at as the difference between a simple tic-tac-toe diagram drawn on a piece of paper, to a Rubik’s Cube that has many sides and angles, and is three-dimensional. Taking it a step further, when attempting to solve the tic-tac-toe challenge, there are only a handful of options before success or failure is imminent. Not so with a Rubik’s Cube as there are many, many options to succeed. In fact, the only way to fail at solving the Rubik’s Cube challenge is to give up and stop trying.

The Develop stage must address key components to the program including resources available AND dedicated to the effort. Resources include both human and financial resources. As social media has no time limitation or barrier, it can be considered a 24/7 plan of managing and monitoring. The various defined objectives must overlap for the three-dimensional structure to remain upright. The strategy must resemble blueprints similar to those developed when building an office building complete with common infrastructure and utilities, but where various floors will be designed for different tasks, and will be occupied by different people.

An effective Franchise Social Media strategy has some commonality built into it through the use of the basic social media channels. However, it should never be considered a one-size-fits-all solution as there are just too many variables from one franchise organization to another. These variables must be individually addressed and include, but are not limited to franchisees already using social media, percentage of effort to be dedicated to consumer proposition and lead development, coordination of timed events, content development for daily activity, responsibility for response both at the franchisee and franchisor levels and timeliness of the same, and transition from the virtual to the real world whether it be at the unit level face-to-face with customers, or within the franchise sales process with a candidate.

Development of the Franchise Social Media strategy is not much different than the development of an operations manual for a franchise system. It must be thought-out and planned for every aspect of the business at-hand. It must be comprehensive to handle the “what ifs?” It must be well-defined to work seamlessly from one individual to another. From 30,000 feet it could look not much different than a franchise system.

EXECUTE

Now, the fun part kicks in and execution of plan is put into action. If the strategy is well-developed and communicated throughout the organization, including to and with franchisees, execution of plan should run smoothly, and should actually be an enjoyable experience. The strategy, defined in a living document, must be in the hands of all involved in the effort. Guidelines must be followed for optimum results. Policies and procedures must be in place for reference as needed.

social media actionsThe key to executing the plan lies within engagement and monitoring. It’s imperative to share content and information that is pertinent and relevant to the target audience. That does not, and should not mean the constant regurgitation of brand messages. The opposite is actually more effective and will actually attract and retain individuals within the online community. Many will return again and again seeking new information. If done effectively, an online community develops and becomes a portal of sorts with followers returning almost daily for new information they may be able use that day.

From a lead generation standpoint it’s imperative to share information beyond the brand message and certainly of the franchise opportunity itself. Information pertaining to entrepreneurship and small business ownership along with links to articles about transitioning executives, establishing goals and objectives, family role in business ownership, and small business finance are popular topics. Sharing this type of information with occasional posts about the brand and franchise ownership will keep this target audience returning day after day, looking forward to new information that will assist them in achieving their goals and objectives. As a valuable resource, a relationship begins to form; a key component of the franchise sales process.

Monitoring the activity is vital to further developing the relationship regardless of whether it’s with consumers or candidates. Timely responses to questions and comments go a long way in common courtesy. More importantly, interacting when the consumer or candidate is “hot” typically spurs conversation. It’s that conversation that establishes the personal interaction that potentially moves the process along. It’s the backbone of the “people buy from people” theory. It’s also at this point where the virtual to in-person transition begins to happen. It’s also where the relationship is most prone to unravel.

It is essential that front-line staff and franchise sales personnel fully understand and are aware of the information being shared with consumers and candidates alike. They should also be aware of online activity, especially the activity leading towards “buying” activity. As the transition to the in-person setting, which includes a visit to a franchise location and a telephone call with a franchise sales representative, the professionalism established online must continue. The online message must be consistent and continue to be conveyed.

ANALYZE

Certainly, metrics are important in gauging the effectiveness of any online strategy. And, it’s vitally important to analyze and quantify results on a regular basis. However, the key metrics are actually simpler than that of algorithms, click-through rates, and impressions. It’s what I refer to as a Social Media P&L.

This P&L takes the objectives, expectations and desired results, as established in earlier planning stages, and quantifies them into hard numbers. Then, these numbers are analyzed against actual results. This should be done weekly, monthly and quarterly in order to view development and progression of trends which then creates the opportunity to tweak and revise the plan much like turning a ship at sea. As you know, turning a ship at sea is done in a very slow, deliberate manner as a quick turn could easily capsize the vessel.

Ultimately, the results achieved within the plan must line up with the initial objectives of getting involved in social media in the first place. Therefore, it’s imperative the initial planning stages include specifying desired results and defined numbers. It’s not enough to just say, “We want to increase business and franchise sales.” Well, how much of sales increase? And, where? What particular market(s)? Over what period of time? And, for franchise sales purposes the same holds true but from its’ own unique perspective.

Keep in mind the operational aspect that needs to be considered in the process, and in evaluating plan effectiveness. It’s not uncommon to drive leads to franchise locations and to franchise sales departments, only to result in poor conversion rates. Obviously, the poor results in this situation are not the result of a poor social media plan as much as it stems from a poor sales effort. It is essential to take into consideration all aspects of daily operations, at the appropriate levels of the organization. It’s imperative the information pulled from these various levels be accurate and timely to accurately evaluate potential issues, and to be able to quickly resolve problems.

Erik Qualman, Author of Socialnomics and the person behind the infamous Social Media Revolution videos states that Social Media ROI is still being in business five years from now. A powerful statement, indeed! But one that I highly value and believe in as social media continues to gain momentum and becomes even more valuable, and essential, than it is today.

Expanding social media beyond its basic elements and utilizing it with specific intent and purpose can prove quite effective in generating multiple benefits at all levels of a franchise organization including increasing traffic at the unit level, creating brand awareness, generating interest in franchise opportunity and improving communications throughout the system. Understanding how social media need to operate in a franchise environment is critical to future success, and a primary reason for referring to it as Franchise Social Media, complete with functionality unique to franchising.

What is the True Definition of, “Entrepreneur?”

entrepreneur2Entrepreneurs are from all walks of life. They have varying degrees of skill and education. Some take more risks than others, but risk is there, nonetheless. Of course, there are many, many other characteristics and traits, and many combinations thereof.

So, really, what is an “entrepreneur?” What does it truly mean? Are there varying degrees of being an entrepreneur – different classes, different levels?

These were the questions I recently asked in the LinkedIn Franchise Executives Group. Below are some of the insights and perspective from franchise professionals that participated in the discussion.

What is the true definition of, “Entrepreneur?”

“Personally, I feel you get a number of different definitions of an Entrepreneur. Here are just a few I can think of off the top of my head.

1) Born Entrepreneur: Somebody that from an early age was active in earning money in exchange for products or services. These people never considered becoming an employee.

2) A “Must-Preneur”: Somebody who through chance or circumstance sees no other option than to become an entrepreneur. This might be due anything from to age to an utter lack of job opportunities

3) An opportunistic entrepreneur: Somebody who sees an opportunity to start a business but has a contract to provide services to their current employer. E.g. Head of IT starting his own company to provide services to their previous employer

4) An executive entrepreneur: Somebody who has reached the top of an executive ladder and views starting their own business as a way to progress further. They usually have a decent amount of money saved up and a fantastic business network to tap into.

5) The Family Entrepreneur: Start a business in order to spend more time with family. Lifestyle is the main motivator.

6) Mumpreneur: A mother who sees no other way of earning a flexible income whilst raising her family. Usually run highly efficient businesses.”

“An entrepreneur is a person who will see the embryonic seeds of an opportunity well in advance of others. Others will eventually only see a lost opportunity. An entrepreneur will see risk as an opportunity. Others will see opportunity as a risk. An entrepreneur will look forward to the challenges and hard work that an opportunity will bring. Others will only see an uphill struggle. An entrepreneur will continue to work at that opportunity irrespective of set backs, make mistakes, pick themselves up and learn from their mistakes. Others will give up the fight when the going gets tough. An entrepreneur will work outside of the normal business framework in order to feel free and unrestricted whilst others will have a need to build an even stronger framework in order just to feel safe. When the opportunity is finally realised, an entrepreneur will not say ‘I told you so’. An entrepreneur will say to themselves not others, ‘I knew I could do it’. Others will say, ‘I wish I had done that’.”

“I think that we all, at one time or another, have what we believe is a great idea, the difference is that the entrepreneur will seize it, grab the ball and run with it, where most people will look back and say: I woulda, coulda, shoulda; the difference is implementation and execution. When I was a youngster, I used to ride horses a lot and the first lesson you are taught is when you get thrown off of the horse, you immediately get back on, for if you don’t, you will have a fear of doing so for the rest of your life. Marc, I would agree with you that being a business owner does not necessarily mean that you are an entrepreneur; most people who buy a franchise are looking for security (avoidance of risk), a structured environment and direction as to what to do and how to do it.”

I had also posted this discussion on Facebook on my personal page at http://www.Facebook.com/PaulSegreto and I’d like to share the responses below, mostly from individuals within the franchise community…

“For me- it was a burning desire to create something that would change the world. Simply owning a business was not my motivating factor.”

“I was tired of being told how to run a business by people that had no clue how to manage people or a business. When you get to that point you just say screw it I am doing my own thing. You are never alone either. surround yourself with people that are positive and are open to you sharing ideas at a much higher level.”

“For me-it was an opportunity to offer a service that my former employer would not or could not provide. I also got tired off working my butt of to benefit someone else. Owning my own business has given me the opportunity to spend more time with my family and to provide them financially.”

“An entrepreneur is someone who doesn’t like following rules. Someone who wants to eventually make them. For me, I became an entrepreneur because I was sick and tired of working for a bunch of idiots. These goofballs were making way too much money…and i wasn’t. So, I took a risk. Joined my Dad’s franchise consulting firm in 2001. Now, I’m a solo entrepreneur. And, the King of the Castle. It’s been a fun ride. There are several more roads for me to cruise on. Join me.”

“The more I sold mgt. would adjust my comp plan to lower my pay. I got burnt out on them fundamentally not getting that the more sold the better off everyone would be. So I became a competitor starting with folding chair, table and legal pad. Now I have lost my table and chair! Just kidding, I have never looked back.”

There were also some negative and saracastic responses including, “I thought entrepreneur was French for unemployed. Can’t we just be business owners?” to which I submitted my own comments…

“I believe the derogatory comments have been increasing because so many individuals lost jobs during the economic downturn and then decided, well, I’ll be an entrepreneur. It really doesn’t work that way for true entrepreneurship. For them, it’s about the money. It’s about survival. It’s about replacing a job! That is not entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship, to me is looking to make a difference. Looking to change the way things are done. Sure, money is great but money should just be the result of your actions and success and the primary force at the beginning. Think about the true entrepreneurs of the world… Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Mark Cuban and of course, there are many more. Quitting school, operating out of garages, pushing to be leading edge with something different, disagreeing with the way industry leaders were doing things, and the list goes on – it wasn’t about the money or even the thought of riches to come. It was about change. It was about making a difference. It was about taking risk when they didn’t even think there was risk involved because they knew they would succeed. It was their conviction to perfection.

Now, I’ll retract some… entrepreneurs do exist at many different levels and there are many within small business (and franchising) today. But the things that are common to all are what I’ve described above, but not as it may relate to society at-large, but to their families, their friends, their community. So, I’ll throw this definition out there – an entrepreneur is one that wants to make a difference, doing so by motivating and encouraging change all the while being aware of risk but challenging risk with clear perspective and innovation, never losing sight of their goals and the always driving forward even in the face of setbacks and failure.”

So, let’s keep the discussion alive… What do you think? – What is the true definition of, “Entrepreneur?”

True Social Media ROI – Relationship & Community Building

Social-Media-ROICertainly, return-on-investment (ROI) is important but too many miss the boat by trying to make social media a line-item on their financials. First, social media is not advertising. So to think there will be a definitive ROI based entirely upon revenue generated against dollars invested is absolutely off-base.

One needs to look at social media as the glue that can hold several key functions of the business together such as bringing the customer experience to marketing complete with sharing operations role in making the experience positively memorable, and letting the end-user know about its objectives. Complicated? No, but not without proper planning and a long-term vision. Further, social media is vehicle that transports information from one function to another – it’s a conduit.

Social media is the communications tool that should lend itself to truth, trust and transparency in establishing or strengthening the business relationship. Last, social media is the tool that enables a brand or business to earn the right to “ask” for business from customers, clients and investors alike as it provides the platform for them to virtually see how your business operates, how it communicates and how it is perceived. The key here is in establishing community. The necessary steps are relatively simple to follow… Share, Interact, Engage and then, only then have you earned the right for a Call-to-Action. Yes, that’s when the right has been earned.

It does take training for social media to be utilized effectively at any level. But even more so at the local level as franchisees typically cannot afford the luxury of adding human resources to handle their social media. So, training and guidance is paramount. As is open communication and interaction between franchisor and franchisee in managing and monitoring social media. Yes, working together with common goals and objectives, as should always be the case in the franchise relationship. This is just another component of what I believe should be the everyday goal of working towards a truly interdependent relationship. The same should be said about all relationships in a business [and franchise] environment – franchisor/franchisee, employer/employee, business/customer, etc… Yes, it should be the norm, and not the exception.


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Marketing, Media & Franchising

Integrated MarketingThis is the first of several posts based upon my 2012 interview with Renee Bailey at Franchise Direct. The theme of the interview was Marketing, Media and Franchising.

What are some trends in franchising today in regards to marketing?

As today’s consumer and franchise candidates are more sophisticated, educated and technologically advanced than ever before, many franchise organizations are focusing on digital marketing as a way to attract these targets.

Unlike traditional marketing, the digital space allows for many different approaches to attract and engage their targets. Specifically, using a combination of social media marketing and content marketing in conjunction with traditional marketing has proven quite effective. Add to the mix the old stalwart – email marketing – and it creates a cross-platform, multi-tiered effect that touches the target audience multiple times within a short period of time… and at times, almost simultaneously.

The key here is to understand that the sales process with today’s consumer and franchise candidate is no longer an A to Z proposition. Often, by the time [they] make personal contact with a company representative, they’re already at letter K, M or even W in the equation. As such, it’s imperative that the transition from the digital space to the personal interaction is seamless, and in line with the message conveyed throughout the digital marketing efforts.

In the next post of this series we’ll address challenges franchisors face integrating new types of media and how franchisors and franchisees alike could better utilize mediums at their disposal.


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Consumer Trends Focus on Customer Experience & Information Sharing

Working this morning through my daily routine of reviewing some 300+ blogs, articles and newsletters  continue to see a trend that refers to what today’s customer wants, needs and commands. The trend touches on customers in all age groups, what brands need to do, and, of course, technology and its ever increasing role in business. But the common ground that everything centers around is customer experience and information access.

I believe the days of worrying about being too intrusive with consumers is behind us. The thing we must learn, and fast is that today’s consumer wants information and wants it now, in real-time. They are more sophisticated and technologically advanced than ever before. Small business owners must follow suit and adapt accordingly. In the franchise space, franchisors must lead the charge and do so, in part by leading by example – embrace and adapt to change!

Below are three interesting articles that lend towards the common ground defined above and indicate major changes already taking place across many industry segments. Would love to hear your thoughts on the same.

Social Customer Expectations as published on Social Media Club

In a study from this year, Gartner predicts not responding to customers via social channels will be as harmful in 2014 as not answering the phone is today. The reason? Customers simply expect it.

Customers have long complained about the lack of attention via certain channels when dealing with companies. Ever stand in line at a store while they answer the phone and have a lengthy conversation? That’s the feeling customers get when they try to reach a brand via social media and are ignored.

Read more here.

All Eyes Turn To Boomers and How They Use The Internet as published on ReadWriteWeb.com

Eighty million Boomers live, work and spend in the United States, nearly a third of the population. If you add the previous generation, the number of 50-plus Americans is 98 million, a segment of the population that’s expected to grow 34% between now and 2030, when nearly half of the nation will be aged 50 or over, according to a recent study from The Nielsen Company.

That is a huge economic force, one that has been shaping the U.S. private sector for a long time. But unlike previous generations, where the members “age out” of active spending and societal influence, the sheer size of the Boomer generation means that it will continue to be a force for a long time to come. By the middle of the 21st century, Nielsen reckons, there could be around 161 million 50-plus citizens in the country.

Already, this is a generation heavily influencing technology, just from it’s buying power. 41% of Apple customers are Boomers, the Nielsen report states.

Read more here.

SoLoMo Update: Mobile-only Social Networks to Reach 1B Users by 2014... as published on TechCrunch.com

Crystal ball-gazing time from Gartner… The analysts, which last night published some stats on how PCs continue to reign as the woolly mammoth of the tech world, today followed up with a list of predictions for one of the areas still on a big upswing: mobile services, and specifically on smartphones and tablets (AKA the devices that are causing all that doom and gloom for PCs). Gartner predicts that we will see 1 billion smartphones sold in 2015, with a further 350 million media tablets sold by that time (as a point of comparison it looks like worldwide PC sales will be under 400 million units this year, using Gartner’s figures).

And it also wrapped those up with a list of suggestions of what services may still have some growing to do.

Read more here.


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