Social Media Will Sell Your Next Franchise. Just ask the Former VP of Marketing at the IFA
FranchiseHelp sat down with Jack Burris, former Director of Marketing at the International Franchise Association to find out how companies like Burris Branding and Marketing are helping franchisors create buzz for their franchise system using social media and to learn specific strategies you can use in your franchise.
Franchisors need to have guidelines for franchisees when it comes to using social media, but to date, most have not put together formalized play books for franchisees to follow. There are plenty of things you can do so your franchisees can create innovative marketing strategies using Twitter, Facebook, location based networks, blogging, etc., as long as they understand the guidelines of the franchisor first.
Jack's unique background with the IFA and in branding gives us some key insights on how to market your franchise, beyond what the general public thinks of social media. It's not just good enough to "be on Twitter" or "have a Facebook account," as creating real strategies within these platforms and executing them is what will really drive customers to your business.
Burris gives us an understanding on how to elevate your brand equity, popularity and exposure. Take a look at our interview below and find out how...
For those of you who would prefer to read the official transcript, enjoy!...
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Hello everybody, I'm Matt Wilson. We're here at FranchiseHelp.com, with Jack Burris, the former Director of Marketing at the International Franchise Association, now with his own firm, Burris Branding and Marketing. We're talking today about social media for franchisees, what they can do to accelerate their business. Things that you should start to think about because the world is definitely changing. We're going into a more transparent world of business, and people want to communicate with you if you're a business owner. Jack, thanks for joining us today.
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: Thanks for having me, Matt.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Hey, no problem. So, tell me a little bit more about what you do for clients through Burris Branding and Marketing.
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: We like to describe ourselves as an idea company. We take a company, a product, a service and through innovative marketing and communication strategies help them build business, really.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Okay. Now, what can you do for a franchisee? Do you have to work with the franchisor, or can you work with specific individual franchisees?
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: We can work with any company, big business, small business, individual franchisee or franchisor. It's two distinct marketing programs where a franchisee is looking to reach new customers. A franchisor is typically marketing on behalf of the franchisee with a national or local media campaign, but they're also trying to attract additional franchise prospects as well.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Okay. So, let's first talk about the franchisor. When they are trying to find additional prospects, they're trying to grow their franchise into more locations, how can they . . . there are so many franchises that are just tweeting about, "Hey, looking for a franchise opportunity, buy now." What is it that they can actually do to attract a qualified person to come in and actually be a good business owner?
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: There are so many different ways now that franchisors are taking advantage of different sort of media to attract potential owners. There's website marketing, and that can include any sort of lead generation. Social media, which I know we're going to talk in a lot more detail about. Print advertising in specific publications that could be anything like Inc., Wall Street Journal. Using broker networks is another pretty big way that franchisors network with potential franchisees. Referral programs, a lot of times franchisees that are already in the system or are customers of their franchisees are the best prospects for them.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Okay. Now, let's talk about the social media aspect of it and actually communicating with customers who you're saying may actually end up being potential franchisees?
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: Yeah, that's exactly right. I heard an interesting statistic yesterday that about 75% of all Internet users are also social media users.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Impressive.
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: So people who are using the Internet, three out of four are either on Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter or all of them. Taking advantage, sometimes I call social media free advertising. There's typically not a cost to play in the space except for the time that you need to invest to build your brand with a social media presence.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Sure. So here, though, most of these people are the passive Facebook user or the person who looks to connect with their grandkids or however they use it is up to them. But advertising on social media? We're not talking about banner ads. We're actually talking about connecting with the consumers. What if they don't want to connect with the franchisor? How can you break down that barrier where most people are on Facebook to look at their friends. Are they going to be looking at franchise opportunities?
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: Yes. That's an interesting point. Really it's not about the franchisor or the local franchise business necessarily connecting on a friendship level with the business. It's more about the secondary marketing opportunities, which means let's say a franchisee or let's just generalize it and say a franchise brand is connected to X number of people.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Sure.
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: Through media channels, they're able to get what I call the secondary media. Their friends are passing information, valuable information along that helps them build their brand on a greater level. At the end of the day, the franchisor or the franchise brand needs to provide a value or a service or something that's interesting to a potential customer or a potential buyer.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Now, that makes sense. So I'm never going to buy a Johnny's Chicken restaurant if none of my friends like Johnny's Chicken. But if all the buzz on social media, if I'm seeing in everybody's Facebook news feeds and on all of their status updates that, "Hey, I'm going to Johnny's Chicken," now I'm going to start to think, wait a second, what if I owned a Johnny's Chicken? Right? Is that what you mean by that?
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: Yeah. That's a pretty good way to explain it. It's the power of the consumer to really help drive interest in a product and to become your testimonial. That way you're taking advantage of a lot people's conversations about you and not really worrying about what you're outwardly saying to an individual person.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Okay. So let's take this one step further. Your friends love Johnny's Chicken. Now, you're going into . . . Johnny's Chicken is something I totally made up. Maybe it exists, maybe it doesn't. But if you look on FranchiseHelp for Johnny's Chicken, I'm guessing you're not going to find it. First of all, you mentioned off camera that almost all franchisees were at one time clients, right, or were one time customers? First of all, 100% of potential, of franchisees should be clients. You've got to go and test it out. That's just part of your due diligence. Now, how can franchises really bridge that gap between people that are generating buzz about Johnny's Chicken, but now how do you get into that conversation if you're a franchise, reach in and pull somebody in who's a potential franchisee?
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: There are a couple of ways to do that. One, probably the most important is to be sure that you make your franchise opportunity easily findable. So, on your Facebook profile, for example, you either have a very good explanation of what the opportunity is and an easy way for the prospect to contact you whether that's by telephone or electronically. Or you link them over to your website and you have a really well developed website that is easily understandable and has a very low barrier of communication.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Okay. So now, FranchiseHelp is all about creating maximum transparency, giving the most information to the potential franchisees as possible. We want someone who's looking for a franchise opportunity to be educated so that they can go and sit at the table, know everything. We have the documents and the education center and all of that. But what is it, in your experience with the IFA, what are some of the things that people just have trouble understanding that we can help dispel?
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: In terms of getting into the franchise business?
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Yeah, getting into the franchise business. (A), so many people, oh yeah, franchising, it's very low risk. Where indeed it's just as high risk as starting your own business except that there is a proven business model and business plan that you know has worked before. But it's still equally as risky. What are some of the other things like that, that people don't understand?
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: Well, some of the things that potential investors need to think about and that are probably harder to find research on than others is doing a comparison among different brands. That's not just a comparison on the investment costs and the geography, but that's going to be on the consumer. The potential investment, when you talk about purchasing a franchise, the potential income is always a touchy topic.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Sure.
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: A lot of franchisors now are publishing in their franchise disclosure documents a section called an Item 19, which is a financial disclosure.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: This is the earnings disclaimer, correct?
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: Exactly. Looking for that in the FDD document is really important. It shows that the franchisor is really lifting up the veil, so to speak, of how some of the current franchisees are operating in the system. Other information that is really hard to find is good, is any consumer feedback. That's really where social media can come into play. As you're doing your research, I really encourage you to do a search, Google searches, Bing searches, Facebook searches, for the brand that you're considering investing in. That way you can see different feedback, positive or negative, and really use that into your consideration about purchasing the franchise.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Absolutely. I mean there's massive opportunity to be able to go in social media and connect with other potential franchisees, with franchisees who maybe have failed. There are definitely people talking about this. You just have to go out and try to discover it. To bring this a little bit more full circle about what you're doing now with Burris, yesterday we came out with an article about eight of the best franchises on social media. People who are doing really, really big things, things that hit Business Insider, hit Huffington Post. Who in your eyes are franchises that are just top-notch? Who would you put on that list?
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: That's a good question. A company that I look at a lot as being pretty innovative in the social media environment in general is PostNet. They do a pretty good job.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: That was PostNet?
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: Yeah, PostNet.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Okay. Could you tell everybody at home exactly what PostNet is and what they do?
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: Yeah. PostNet is a postage, shipping, and packing center. They're biggest competitors that you may be more aware of are UPS Store and FedEx.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Sure.
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: They're not a client of ours.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Yeah. But what do they do that's so outstanding?
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: The way that their Facebook profile is set up is really good. They do a very good job of connecting their brand across several different platforms. That's from a national standpoint. From a local standpoint, there's a really good trickle down effect that'll . . . there's a national touch, but there's a PostNet in Charlotte, for example, where I live and I have a direct connection with them as well, on a social level. So a lot of times, what a lot of franchisors don't understand is that social media really needs to work on two levels. There's a national brand and then there's your local stores.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Sure.
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: Both offices or both locations need to play an active role in that branding, because from a consumer or potential franchisee level, I don't want to connect with XYZ Franchise in Denver at the corporate headquarters.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: No.
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: I want to connect with my local business.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: That's right because you may go in there and you know the lady working behind the counter.
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: Exactly. That's an area where a lot of franchisors really need to focus is building both the national and the local.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Okay. So what kind of support can a national franchisor give the franchisee as far as social media training? There's got to be guidelines because you have to be consistent with the brand.
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: The franchisor can do two things. One is help establish the brand look and feel.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Sure.
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: That's pretty common in a franchise system already. The other is to provide the technology, the knowledge, and a lot of the information at the local level to promote their brand locally. At the end of the day, you'll notice this a lot in Google for example, if a business wants to register in Google Places, the national brand cannot register all of the local franchisees. The local franchisees have to do that themselves.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Okay.
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: So the franchisor needs to provide a roadmap for everything the franchisee needs to do in order to be successful.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Okay. Then, to wrap everything up, can you give some specific things about what you're doing for franchisees? What can they do to help their own business? Can you break it down for us like that?
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: Sure. One of the things that we do or several of the things that we do to help small business is, number one, understand how to navigate all the different marketing options that are out there right now. Whether it's social media or other types of advertising, we want to help you to understand how to bring the media traffic in your doors. Aside from that, we can also help with creative website development. Really, anything that involves marketing a product or a service.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Okay. Real, social media, give us a just a quick synopsis of the things that a specific franchisee can do to really hammer it home. Anything to leave everybody with?
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: Sure. From a social media perspective, I encourage you to post quality not quantity.
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: Building a faithful audience isn't always about the amount of information you publish, it's about how good it is.
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: So, quality not quantity. Honesty and to not take advantage of the mediums that are out there. Social media is great for instant promotion, but it is also great from brand building.
[Matt Wilson, FranchiseHelp]: Excellent, Jack. Hey, I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to come and talk to our audience. Burris Marketing and Branding definitely can help out with a lot of different franchisees/franchisors. I'm Matt Wilson signing off for FranchiseHelp.com. Thanks for joining us Jack.
[Jack Burris, Burris Branding and Marketing]: Thanks, Matt.
The first point I made ties into this, but you need to make sure you’ve done your research before you go ahead and sign a franchising agreement. And that doesn’t just mean from a financial perspective. There are so many other aspects in running a franchise that you need to understand before you get started. Most of this information can be found in the Franchise Disclosure Documents. Some of the most important things you should take a look at would be any legal issues the franchisor might have and the churn rate of franchises. Both of those could potentially be pretty significant red flags that might make you want to reconsider whether or not you want to open that franchise.
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