Franchise Marketing: The New Word of Mouth

Image from Mashable.com http://bit.ly/mHfxmwPossibly the most effective way to market an established franchise is to rely on local support. A local following is usually spread through word of mouth, and these days that only means one thing: Social Media. Some of the most useful social platforms for franchises and other small businesses are those that utilize mobile and GPS technology. Common platforms like Google Maps and Facebook Places function like souped-up phone books, providing contact info, coupons, directions, business hours, and more to any potential customer that looks.

Similar to these, but more complex are check-in apps and local deal sites. Though there is a significant amount of controversy surrounding it at the moment, some businesses are claiming a lot of success through local coupon site, Groupon. SignPost is another similar site that we have talked about in the past. Check-in apps are typically handled on a much smaller scale, and include things like Foursquare, Ditto, and SCVNGR.

Foursquare and Ditto both benefit small businesses and franchises in similar ways. Once a location is added to the database, any visitors can “check in,” on their mobile phones, either to gain access to special offers, or simply to brag to their friends. Other users see those check-ins, and the word of mouth spreads.

SCVNGR is even a bit deeper. This application allows business owners to set up challenges at their locations, offering rewards in whatever form the store owner desires. Challenges can be as simple as “eat three hotdogs in one sitting,” to more complex “treks,” such as visiting four or more locations of a single franchise in one week. Mashable has an in-depth guide to this program, which might be worth reading, but SCVNGR’s userbase is still fairly low, so franchise operators shouldn’t expect a huge boost in visits immediately, but the right combination of social media buzz and industry expertise could make this concept the next big thing.

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Founded in 1989, WebbMason is one of the fastest-growing print and brand management service companies in the United States, helping marketing departments and their internal and external partners save money and streamline processes through a winning combination of industry expertise, exceptional print supply chain partners and technological innovation. Headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland, WebbMason has 20 sales offices throughout the United States.

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