Paul Segreto has over 20 years of wide-ranging experience within the franchise industry as consultant and coach, senior-level corporate executive, advocate, multi-unit franchisee and area developer. He is extremely active within the franchising community as the President and CEO of franchisEssentials, founder at franchisEssentials Media Group, and the Host of “Franchise Today,” on BlogTalkRadio. Paul also is co-founder of FranSummit, and founder of the “Personal Branding for Franchisees, Franchisors & Franchise Professionals” program.
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 is line with the message conveyed throughout the digital marketing efforts.
What are some challenges franchises are facing concerning integrating new types of media?
The biggest challenge franchises face with new media is a lack of understanding that like anything else, it requires planning. Many are not taking the time to:
- develop and explore the various media available
- identify their targets along with identifying where they congregate and communicate online
- develop a strategy based upon the targets (which may actually require sub-strategies for each target and their online communities)
- execute the plan and all that goes into it, including dedication of financial AND human resources in managing and monitoring activity, and of course
- analyze and quantify results in order to continue moving forward or adjusting as necessary
Yes, that’s a lot to grasp but it is essential to developing an effective program utilizing new media. Basically, what I’ve described is e-IDEA, which is something we utilize religiously when working with franchise clients – Explore, Identify, Develop, Execute, and Analyze. It really is a great, simple guide to follow.
How do you feel franchisors and franchisees can better utilize the mediums at their disposal?
By working together, as many franchisees essentially “got there first,” meaning they were posting within social media in its early stages. It’s important to utilize their efforts as a foundation on which to build a uniform social media or new media program.
Franchisors should not take a rigid approach with respect to messaging and social involvement. New media is all about interaction and engagement, and as such, requires a “personal” touch at the local level. Of course, there needs to be guidelines and certain policies to protect the brand. But that is more common sense than anything.
Also, I believe franchises shouldn’t get all caught up in just driving LIKES. It’s more important to create a community of sharing and engagement. I much prefer seeing a Facebook with lower number of LIKES but a high number of post views. That tells me that people are coming back day after day after day to see what is on the page. Whereas just LIKING a page, they may never return. What good does that do?
How are franchisors utilizing social media to connect with prospective franchisees throughout the prospecting process?
Great question because many are not connecting with prospective franchisees. Social media is not the silver bullet many want and expect to make the sales process easier, or even to generate leads on its own.
Instead, social media for franchise development should be looked at as a vital complementing component in the traditional lead generation process. That means it should provide a support mechanism that candidates can be directed to and that candidates can find on their own in their own due diligence. Today’s candidates are also more diligent and cautious than ever before. Social media allows them to virtually stand next to a brand and experience how that brand interacts with its customers, franchisees, etc.
All that being said, social media can be utilized in the franchise development process as a way to drive candidates to a specific event like a webinar, where the concept can be explained in detail. The key here is that one-size-fits-all strategies with social media do not work effectively.
One more thing: it’s critical to ask questions at the onset of utilizing social media related to expectations and desired results. This is crucial in evaluating whether or not the program worked. As important as click-thru’s, insights, impressions, etc. are in analyzing the process and program itself, looking at desired results against actual results is really the true Social Media P&L.
Have new media options available altered the franchisor-franchisee relationship?
Of course, but they don’t need to. New media is all about truth, trust and transparency. Really, isn’t that what the franchise relationship should be built upon?
New media is a wonderful way of keeping in communications at all times. Embrace and adapt is what I typically advise. It’s important to receive proper training to fully understand new media and all its capabilities and features.
How does a personal brand enhance the overall brand of a franchise system?
The new trend in digital marketing, or better stated, in attracting today’s consumer is referred to as SoMoLo, or Social Mobile Local.
- Social, we’ve touched upon above.
- Mobile is just the way consumers are choosing to access and search information, and communicate.
- Local, well, that’s all about the “personal side” of the business transaction.
People want to do business with people. They buy from people. Sure, the brand may get them in the door, but it’s the person representing the brand that they want to business with. So, as consumers technologically advance, it’s not uncommon for them to check out the local franchisee’s Facebook page or LinkedIn profile, perform a Google search of the franchisee, etc. What they hope to find is a person of experience and integrity. [Even] the banking industry is leaning towards utilizing a social reputation score for business loan applicants that will rival the credit score.
In August of 2011, HubSpot explored why every franchisee needs their own website (story link: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/bid/22027/). Does this relate to your philosophy that individual brands enhance the overall franchise system?
Yes. I don’t think that it can be argued that a franchise organization with franchisees with strong personal branding wouldn’t be significantly stronger than a system with franchisees that just stand behind the counter.
Now, I’m not degrading the efforts of franchisees that strive for 100% customer satisfaction and are willing to put in long hours to ensure the same. But with a strong personal brand that reaches into the local community, franchisees would be more successful driving the business. I refer to this as GOYA marketing – Get Off Your Ass marketing. Here’s the great part of GOYA marketing… in today’s digital world, much of the personal branding can be done online!
Are there any additional insights you would like to share with prospective franchisees?
It doesn’t matter what your level of investment, or visibility and strength of the brand, the key to your success is YOU! Yes, I am a firm believer in location, location, location, and I always stress not to fall so in love with a brand that you accept a secondary location because that is a recipe for failure. But as important is for me to stress: You, you, you.