Franchise Marketing: Social Solutions

WebbMason will be hosting a FREE Webinar on Franchise Marketing Automation on July 12th. To register, click here.

Last time, we mentioned that in franchise marketing, you are sometimes better off gravitating toward less mainstream social media solutions. Now we are going to explain why.

Quantity vs Quality:

It is not difficult to find companies that can sell you Facebook fans, or Twitter followers. For many businesses, the appeal of instantly gaining three thousand fans overnight is tempting. What these owners forget is that a fan count is a meaningless number.

We will grant that a high fan count is one way to improve your search results within Facebook, but it is a marginal boost. What you will really be gaining is a very full, but very boring fan page. What you really want in social media is conversation, and if people are only on your page because they are being paid to be there, conversation is unlikely. As we have said before, social media is the new avenue for word-of-mouth marketing, and nothing is going to give a bad impression faster than a group of 3,000 people that have nothing good to say about your business.

Try to find a niche that compliments your business. Franchise restaurants can gain a lot of traction with social review sites like UrbanSpoon and Yelp!, both of which we have written about with some frequency. These sites have smaller fanbases, but they are populated by foodies and townies, the people that you want to be talking about your restaurant.

Weighing Pros and Cons:

A major trend for franchises and small businesses alike is making deals on coupon sites. Groupon, and its less-hipster-friendly counterpart LivingSocial, both promise heavy returns for sites that participate. Like a Vegas Casino, most of those guarantees are so much neon and marketing. Your odds of saving a faltering business with Groupon are slim-to-none. In fact, many experts now warn that signing a Groupon contract could easily be the last decision your business ever makes.

“Businesses are being sold incredibly expensive advertising campaigns that are disguised as “no risk” ways to acquire new customers. In reality, there’s a lot of risk. With a newspaper ad, the maximum you can lose is the amount you paid for the ad. With Groupon, your potential losses can increase with every Groupon customer who walks through the door and puts the existence of your business at risk.”

There are plenty of alternative options that will allow you to capitalize on the popularity of couponing without risking a five-figure marketing disaster. Local newspapers, fliers, and magazines like Money Pages are excellent examples. Online, look for smaller, more locally-focused websites, ideally, something that functions more like a community bulletin board. Of course, you also have to consider the fact that giving out coupons cheapens your brand’s image to consumers. Is a possible increase in walk-in sales worth risking your existing following? Maybe it is. These questions are going to have different answers for every franchise.

Marketing a franchise will always have different challenges than other businesses, but there are ways to make it easier.

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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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