The great thing about social networking, that has been missing from online franchise lead generation, is the “meeting place.” It’s a place where a candidate gets to know the people in the know as well as on the fringe; the concept’s customers. So, let’s define the “meeting place.”
The “meeting place” is anywhere online where cyber identities gather. Ok, it’s where people network on social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, just to name a few of the most popular sites. I just wanted to be geeky cute so forgive me for the humor.
Anyway, in these social networks, individuals meet with others, share information and learn new things. In this process, if they’re looking for a franchise or business opportunity, they’ll seek out information that may assist them in the process. Through referrals and discussion groups they may be exposed to “experts” in their particular field of interest. Experts that may have the answer to what they’re looking for.
But, would they trust a direct push right to a website full of information? The answer is no because they’re only “hearing” it from one source. They need to have full understanding which the website may help provide. But before that, they need to “see” and “hear” what others have to say. Others that know what’s going on. Others that have experienced the service or product as the end user. Others that are the “operational” people. Where does the candidate find that online? Is there a place online that is not intimidating and so one-sided that it creates a level of discomfort as opposed to excitement to proceed?
Yes, there is such a place. For one, a Facebook fan site of the concept, could be just the right place. A landing zone so to speak before being launched to the company website. This non-intimidating site may have a cross platform of many different individuals “talking” about their views, positions and experiences with the company as a candidate, a franchisee, a corporate executive or a customer. It’s in this zone that the franchise candidate learns about the practical side of the concept, the pros and cons as they are conveyed from different individuals, and they get to “see” the experience of the concept itself through the “eyes” (comments) of others.
It’s kind of like standing on a line for a ride at Disney World where the time up until the ride takes off is the Facebook site and the ride itself is the concept a franchise candidate is considering. On the long line for the ride, you kind of know what to expect and the anticipation builds as you move along. But, you just don’t jump on the ride, right? You first go through the info stage. You read the general signs at the entrance. You hear directions and watch videos along the way. Sounds a lot like Social Media, doesn’t it?
Further along, you see the caution signs. You interact with other guests on line. You share what you have heard about the ride with others and them with you. You interact with the ride personnel as they usher you to the ride itself. There, you interact with the people who just finished the ride and you see the excitement and joy on their faces. Now you’re ready for the experience yourself. Hold on tight because as the ride leaves the station, YOU”RE COMMITTED!
Of course, franchise sales are not quite as easy or simple as anyone who has ever presented a franchise sales opportunity can attest. But when you consider the building and infrastructure of the ride and the time spent developing the ride concept, the design of the structure, the projected ride experience and the large financial investment, it’s easy to see how both a franchise opportunity and a ride evolve the same and ultimately have similar objectives; to encourage participation, create a positive experience, instill a desire to do it again without remorse and to share their unique experience with others.
The one key thing that Disney has that may be lacking in many franchise organizations is “attention to detail.” It’s the little things along the way that create the desire, justify the value and establish trust that the Disney name brings to the experience. Is it ironic that key components of a sale are need/desire, value and trust? Are you ready for the Disney-ish way of selling franchises? If you are, then you’re ready to sell franchises through social networking, social media and all the other goodies that make up Web2.0!