How to integrate social media into building sales
In today’s world everyone is connected and everyone can publish. Gone are the days when business controlled media. Distant is the memory when all queries, enquires and complaints were managed by the company’s phone systems and personnel.
It can therefore seem ever more challenging to gain connection with buyers for the business owner. We need to understand that to some extent the rules of advertising and conversation engagement have changed. So what has changed and what must the business owner do to build sales in the social media connected age?
What has changed?
We are all publishers now
Business advertisers do not control the conversation
All publishers need to consider the needs and interests of their existing and prospective clients
Content created and published is the start of the conversation not an open and closed tablet of information
On-line engagement must go beyond the application form
What must business do to build sales in the social media age?
Firstly advertising is not a mistake. Advertising is a great way to create opportunity and product awareness. It can also provide understanding of what it on offer, who should be interested and outline what benefits are available that can improve the buyer’s experience.
This is the awareness stage. Increasingly people that see and read adverts look for further information. Your own website and social media comment and ratings are increasingly sources that are visited before a new client is won. The would be client is therefore looking for understanding and confidence that can be gained from the experience of strangers – think TripAdvisor. Increasingly social media is being used for manging client conversation and support.
What can you do?
Ask your clients what research they did before becoming a client?
Document their pre-buyer journey
Ask about how they use the internet to validate companies, products and services in general
Identify where advertising and social media come into that journey over all
Consider how print, advertising and social media can be harnessed to provide evidence of happy clients
Revisit your marketing journey and review your engagement options
Add social media to provide evidence of what your company offers and real lives it has improved
Offer incentives for your clients to share the value you provide to their own networks. This will raise brand profile and drive new enquiries and sales via your client’s own activities and validation.
Harnessing social media into marketing is not a focus on technology but rather a focus on people. It’s not about control but about engagement. It’s not about throwing away all that works but rather harnessing the power of networks.
Think people first!
For strategic advice and support on growing your business contact us on 023 8027 5710, email firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with the author of this blog Nick Strong via LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickstrong/
It is important that, as a franchisor, you understand your prospects’ decision-making processes so that you can adapt your recruitment process accordingly.
It takes the average franchisee around three to six months to make a decision to buy a franchise. The decision-making process is based on much more than prospects having read one magazine article, attending one exhibition or visiting your website for a quick read through. The process involves a combination of all these things and more. This makes it all the more important to understand their journey so that you can provide the right type of communication at the right time, allowing you to stay ahead of your competition by converting more of your leads into franchisees.
Thinking of your prospects as customers looking to buy a product or service can be a useful technique. In this case, they are looking at buying your franchise. This process can make it much easier to analyse the decision-making process of each prospect.
According to the Business Directory, the consumer decision-making process can be defined as the process by which consumers:
Every section of the process is different depending on your target audience and can be influenced by psychological, economic and environmental factors such as culture, group and social value as well as how the individual feels at the time. To find out which factors are affecting your prospects’ decisions, it’s a good idea to research your existing franchisees and how they came to make their decisions. This method will allow you to find out which communications from you affected their decisions at each stage of the process.
Buying a franchise is at the high-involvement end of the decision-making process because there is a large amount of money being invested and a franchisee commits to a minimum of five years with a franchisor so it is important for them to make sure that they’re making the right decision. Investment in a franchise involves trust in what they have seen and been told by the franchisor will actually work for them. It is also important for you to consider that, in many cases, it is not just the decision of the individual but it also involves the opinions of close friends and family.
Each prospect has much to consider so the stage they’re at in the decision-making process when you receive their initial enquiry will determine how long they will take to make a decision to join your franchise, the type of questions they will ask and whether they will rule you out and move on. Throughout the whole process, prospects will be getting advice from family and friends and taking other people’s opinions on board. Buying a franchise is a more emotional decision than taking a job as an employee because it usually involves a large sum of money and, more importantly, serious personal commitment. Your prospects need to trust that you will help them build a business, so building rapport and a good relationship from day one is vital. It is also important to set the ground rules of operating your franchise from the start, so that you and your prospects know what is expected of the other for you both to achieve success.
Sally Anne Butters is Head of Media at Coconut Creatives, a marketing agency that works with Franchisors to create a strategy that fits with their objectives, skillset and budget.
Providing your franchisees with adequate training in marketing will not only help them create a successful and profitable business, it will benefit the whole franchise and aid you in your franchisee recruitment.
Marketing is THE skill for business success but many franchisors fail to give their franchisees adequate training in marketing their franchises. Just imagine how much easier it would be for you to recruit new franchisees if you could show prospects that everyone in your franchise network was doing well!
By providing your franchisees with a dedicated marketing programme, you can ensure that you are guiding them every step of the way. Help your franchisees to improve their sales and improve yours in the process!
With a strong performing network, prospects are much more likely to want to join your network. No-one wants to buy into a franchise that isn’t profitable and doesn’t provide them with substantial training to help make them as successful as possible.
You will often find that very few of your franchisees come from a marketing background so will have no idea where to start and will be relying on your guidance and support. Help them out by providing a training programme, either in-house or externally, to not only help them find their feet in the early days but to continue it throughout the lifetime of their franchise.
If you can’t train your franchisees yourself, you may want to consider involving a third party to either train you as the franchisor or to set up a training course for your franchisees to attend. In many cases, franchisees will look favourably on a third party. It shows that you are investing in their future and growth and it builds trust between you. This method may cost you money in the short term but sales and, therefore, your profits, will increase dramatically if all of your franchisees are singing from the same hymn sheet. Outside training from other professionals will benefit not only your franchisees but your brand and network as a whole.
As a lower cost training exercise, you can partner your franchisees together so that they can help each other. By partnering an experienced, top performing franchisee with a new franchisee, they will be able to learn from each other; old dogs can learn new tricks from fresh-faced newbies!
A buddy system is a great way to form a stronger network. Franchisees who are prepared to help each other out are much more likely to perform better collectively.
As a franchisor, it is essential that you stay ahead of your competition and attract as many new franchisees to your network as possible and to make sure they don’t join someone else’s network. By implementing the training I have mentioned above, you can offer prospects something that most franchisors may not have even thought about: teaching your franchisees to market their own business! Before they join a franchise, prospects will have done their due diligence and a large part of their decision will be based on whether or not their business will be successful and adequate training goes hand-in-hand with this.
Sarah Carlile is the Founding Director at Coconut Creatives, specialising in Franchise Marketing & Mentoring.