Where Is The Next FranCamp?

FranCamp

Franchisors, franchisees, agencies, and suppliers all had them same initial feedback as soon as Franchise Social Media Camp FranCamp – wrapped on Saturday:

When is the next FranCamp? And, where?!?

The FranCamp organizing team got together immediately to discuss, but we want to hear from the Franchising Community as to what areas of the country make the most sense for busy marketers and development pros. Please take a minute to tell us your choice for FranCamp cities.

Click Image to Take Poll and See Results

 

The desire of so many attendees to continue this discussion may have been based on the tight focus of all speakers and presenters. The discussions were neither too introductory nor too technical.  All presentations and roundtable discussions were geared to giving everyone usable social media tactics to put in place immediately.

This was a refreshing change from the IFA’s recent attempts at having social media panels and presentations at the annual convention, which were very elementary for many franchise marketers.

All of the presentations from FranCamp Nashville were streamed live on USTREAM and available to you for viewing now. These include:

Deb Evans, Computer Explorers – Engaging Your Company

BJ Emerson, Tasti D-Lite – Social Loyalty Programs

Thomas Scott, Brand Journalists – Business Blogs

Nate Griffin, Man of Action and Aimee Romero, Love and Science – Organic SEO

Joe Mathews, Franchise Performance Group – Social Franchise Development

Jack Monson, Engage121 – Twitter Tactics

Paul Segreto, franchisEssentials – LinkedIn Strategies

Jennifer MacDonald, WIN Home Inspection – Online Videos & YouTube

AK Stout, Saying It Social – Facebook Strategies

Ashley Betzendahl, Goddard Systems and Robin Scott, Computer Explorers – Franchisor and Franchisee Q&A


One final note – several attendees have asked to see the Engage121 case studies I mentioned. Please see links here for case studies of
franchise system Edible Arrangements and iconic brand Amtrak.

Thanks to everyone for their time and attention. See you in whatever city you want to bring FranCamp to next!

Google+ for Brands

Google+
Last week at Social Media Breakfast Chicago, I was pleased to lead a lively discussion with several smart marketers and community managers on Google+. Everyone is in the planning stages and waiting to see exactly what Google has in store for brands hopefully still this year!

It feels like Google+ is moving forward ever so methodically. There is now an API available though it’s limited to public data at the moment. In fact, this week I connected my Google+ profile to my Engage121 account.

The group relayed stories how their brands and clients are anxiously waiting for the business pages to be rolled out. Here is a list of things you can do now to prepare.

1. Get in and use it as a personal profile now to get the feel.

2. Get your colleagues and valued connections from other platforms to join now and learn together. Share some posts with each other or start a Hangout (my favorite function!).

3. Start setting up circles of your brand’s communities. Think of segmenting them just like you would segment targeted mailing lists. We are assuming that one could share circles built in one’s personal profile over to the brand, so much of your targeting prep work can be done here and now.

4. Start collecting Google+ profiles now of your customers, industry experts, and other important influencers – just like Twitter handles in 2009 or phone numbers in 1940.

5. Get your photo to show up in Google searches. This is a great little tip I found from the always-informative marketing blog by Jim Connolly.

6. Watch what the beta test brands are doing. Check out Ford.

7. Connect with me on Google+ and we’ll all figure it out together!

This Saturday at FranCamp in Nashville, I will be leading a roundtable lunch discussion on Google+ for Franchise Systems with my friend Deb Evans. If you’re in the area and interested n social marketing or franchising – or just want a good reason to go spend a day in Music City – please join us! Agenda and registration details below:

Franchising Goes Social

Franchise Social Media


FranCamp 2011 is the first social media “un-conference” for the franchising industry and is happening this October in Nashville. All franchisors and franchisees are encouraged to attend to learn and share what’s working in social media marketing for franchise systems.

The format is simple: a low-cost, one-day event loaded with a fast-paced and aggressive agenda loaded with super-helpful content. After some sessions at this year’s IFA Convention, several IFA members and I discussed the need for a social media event for franchise systems that was more than just the typical “why use social media” discussion and really get down into useable, actionable takeaways.

I’m excited to be presenting on the topic of Twitter tactics and best practices for franchises. Some of the points we will be discussing are:

  • The dirty little secret of how your customers are actually using Twitter
  • Why Twitter requires completely different tactics than Facebook or Google+
  • 4 things to do if your Tweets are not driving business

Here’s the current lineup of speakers and panelists with franchise leaders who are making an impact with social:

Deb Evans, CEO, Computer Explorers

BJ Emerson, VP Technology, Tasti D-Lite

Timothy Nobles, Founder, Words Go Here SEO

Jack Monson, VP, Engage121

Paul Segreto, CEO, FranchiEssentials

Jennifer MacDonald, Online Community Manager, WIN Home Inspection

AK Stout, CEO, Saying it Social

Joe Mathews, Founder, Franchise Performance

Amy Olson, Director of Marketing, The Maids International

Kurt Schusterman, CEO, Verlo Mattress Factory Stores

Thomas Scott, CEO, Brand Journalists

This daylong event will take place October 22 at CoLab in downtown Nashville. Plus, there will be a Tweet-Up on Friday evening at a Tasti D-Lite location in Nashville!

Showhomes Hits Franchise Expansion Goal

Here is a recent DailyVista article regarding Showhomes. The company’s rapid expansion in the current economy is an exciting story that is resonating with media, consumers, and business leaders nationwide.

My firm has worked with Showhomes for a couple of years and I am still fascinated by the company’s story and its ability to tell the story well. Congratulations on another great year!  
 

Showhomes Home Staging 

Showhomes Home Staging Company Hits Franchise Expansion Goal

By Stephanie Jacoby

Managing Editor, DailyVista  

May 11, 2010

Showhomes, a home staging provider, announced it has added 11 franchise units by April of 2010, thus surpassing its expansion goal and setting a company record for new units opened, according to the company.

The Nashville, Tenn.-based company expects that 2010 will be its seventh consecutive year of steady incline. Showhomes is also on track to open 40 new locations this year, even further exceeding its 2010 goal of 25. Showhomes has opened 20 franchises in 2009, compared to the 15 that were projected, and intends to sell out all available units by 2014.

“If you take a step back, we are a home-based business, we are in a hot category of small business, the cash requirements for opening are low, we have an excellent track record, we have some of the best franchisee validation in the industry and we have a really high potential return on investment,” Chief Operating Officer Matt Kelton said in a statement. “When you add it all up, I can’t think of a better franchise in today’s market.”

Showhomes is a home staging franchise that uses live-in home stagers to help realtors sell vacant houses. These live-in home stagers help manage vacant houses while they are on the market for sale and offset a home owner’s expense to stage the home.

Thomas Scott, vice president of marketing, told DailyVista that Showhomes has been around since 1986, but has really seen a boom in its business due to the heightened interest in the art of staging a home for sale.

“HGTV started airing home staging shows, and thanks to them, home staging became a buzz word,” he said. “Staging preps houses for sales – they show better, and that started our momentum. During the current housing bust, when everyone is talking about how bad the market is, we’re one of the few good stories out there in real estate. It’s been golden for us to expand.”

The depressed real estate market has been very helpful for Showhomes, and as such, the company has plans to build out a national foot print, which may include an upwards of 150 to 200 new units.

“We’re well on track to do that, we’re ahead of where we thought we’d be, so it’s a good problem to have,” Scott said. “We’re expanding heavily in the Northeast, and adding more units in Florida, Texas and California. We’re expanding wherever there’s interest.”

Showhomes is big in Southern California, and is hoping to open in Napa Valley and in Sacramento in the coming months. Kelton says that the franchise does well in many markets, small and large, because there are vacant houses everywhere, and even in the boom, it has a lot to do with how often people move. Most consumers will purchase new homes before they sell their old homes and move all their furniture to the new place, which creates a need for vacant home staging.

“Franchising in general has been struggling. It’s one of the real ironies in the market, because in a recession more people want to start their own business more than normal because they’re out of work so there is a big disconnect between franchise companies and people who want to open a franchise,” Scott said. “With our forward-thinking approach, we engage customers and put information out there. Aggressive Blogging, social media and social media PR have really generated sales for us.”

Coupled with Web content, guest blogging and other types of non-traditional communications, Showhomes’ current online content and social media efforts have allowed folks who are naturally interested in real estate or home staging to tune into the company story long before they talk to a salesperson. When they do inquire about either owning their own Showhomes franchise, or requesting the company’s services, they have already done some research and are engaged.

“We’ve also found on the franchise sales side, one thing that’s working today is old-school trade shows,” Scott said. “The entire last decade companies spent getting connected to the Internet, and now with all those portals, people don’t trust sales people.”

Scott says his company saw a big turnaround at trade shows in 2009 and that they now produce almost a third of its overall sales. Consumers want to meet a live person and those that have an inherent interest in the industry go to Showhomes’ booth and meet their team.

“We are also big on what I’d say is social media PR,” Scott said. “We’ve found we have to be way more aggressive and more targeted with the PR we do – it drives a lot of the brand. PR works for us but only because we produce releases that tell real stories and don’t read like what a PR firm produces. We turn our releases into real stories that will get a journalist’s attention.”

“There’s no such thing as viral content in today’s market, it’s just good content,” he said. “We tend to produce things in-house because we find most PR and marketing firms don’t know how to produce good content. I’m a former journalist and I use journalists to do our writing. We know how to produce a campaign the gets results because we all have a very keen idea of what’s interesting and what’s absolute junk. The junk gets tuned out – the really interesting content is what you need to fuel a successful social media campaign.”

Showhomes finds that consumers in today’s market are using Google as a starting point for any kind of research. In line with this research, Scott spends a great deal of time tracking back to see where customers have found a link to the Showhomes Web site, and also implements quite a bit of search engine optimization to stay top of mind when it comes to home staging.

“We do lots of hyper-local searches – generating leads from Google searches and from Craig’s List,” he said. “We had to adapt our marketing in the last year, because social media has really changed the way customer make buying decisions. We’ve had to revamp almost everything we do and it’s been great for our franchisees. We’ve come up with more cost-effective campaigns, but it takes lots of brain power and going against the conventional wisdom.”

As far as potential franchisees, mortgage brokers are Showhomes’ target market at this point, which gives the company an opportunity to grow in the mortgage broker industry, which is struggling these days. Other interested parties are folks that are simply interested in real estate, not necessarily realtors themselves, just those intrigued by the industry.

Scott said that through his own consulting company; a lot of these marketing efforts are handled in-house, adding that due to his journalism background, he hires former journalists and writers to assist with press releases and other content as soon as he needs them. “What has emerged is that getting results is all about the content; you produce intelligent content, designed specifically for that audience, and that’s what fuels social media, instead of a PR agency or a marketing, or an SEO or a Web firm, you have a content strategy firm that produces PR, social media content, blogging content and all the other various pieces that go with it.”

Scott said that those who can tell the company’s story are the ones that truly generate traffic. Outside of franchising, these types of agencies are building content and are quickly becoming a mainstay in the communications industry.

  
 

For more information on Showhomes, please contact:
Thomas Scott
615-483-4923
tscott@showhomes.com
@ShowhomesThomas

The Mainstream Media: What Flood in Nashville? Where’s Nashville?

 
After attending a business conference and speaking engagement in Nashville, I luckily got out of town on Saturday, May 1, just as the storms and flooding started.
 
The next morning, I was shocked to see how little attention the TV networks and cable channels as well as newspapers were paying to this disaster!
 
Here are search results of traditional media from Saturday May 1 through Monday May 3 courtesy of MediaQ, an application that monitors and measures both Traditional Media and Social Media:
 
Story                        Traditional Media Hits   
 
Oil Spill in Gulf             19,208 
 
Times Square Bomb    11,808
 
Nashville Floods           5,762

 
Why did Traditional Media pay so little attention to this story? The oil spill story had been around for several days without any real new developments. No one (thankfully!) was hurt in the failed Times Square bombing attempt. Yet over a dozen had already lost their lives in Tennessee and the story was a far third in the eyes of the editors and writers at traditional news outlets.  
 
Newsweek’s Andrew Romano wrote an excellent post explaining the media’s monomaniacal nature and poor judgment call that flooding in Nashville just doesn’t sizzle enough. Here are my additional thoughts.

 
1. The Traditional Media is New York-centric. This is especially true when it comes to anything regarding weather. Does the New York Times even have reporters west of the Hudson anymore?

 
2. The Traditional Media has a faux global concern. The Hollywood crowd won’t be hosting any telethons or concerts for a red heartland state like Tennessee. Fortunately, I’m guessing there’s a very kind-hearted entertainment genre based in Nashville that will take care of that!

 
3. And Romano is right. A natural disaster in the heartland just isn’t dramatic enough for the sensational cable channels, TV networks, and national papers. No villain, no connection to global warming, terrorism, healthcare bills, or Obama.
 
 
Fortunately for those of us who were interested in how people were doing in Nashville, we can bypass the old media and connect via social media. I saw pictures posted from inside the decimated Gaylord hotel and read blog posts from locals updating friends and colleagues on their status.  

Gaylord Opryland Hotel
Inside Gaylord Hotel 5/2/10 - Photo Courtesy of Thomas Scott

Let’s take a look again at MediaQ over May 1 -3, this time looking at Social Media hits:

Story                        Social Media Mentions
 
Oil Spill in Gulf            13,623
 
Times Square Bomb    5,685
 
Nashville Floods          8,597

We can see that the Nashville flood story was a much more important topic of conversation than the newspapers and TV outlets who blew the call would have thought.

For more info on using MediaQ, please contact Jeff Tidyman