Wayne Sharer is the Owner, Lead Consultant and Executive Producer for ThinkBigandGrow Media where he has developed the New Bridge Marketing Strategy and Local Market Dominator System which help small business owners and individual franchisees create marketing strategies for their unique local markets.
In this interview, we asked Wayne what it takes for new franchisees to get up and running with a successful marketing program, and how franchise owners can improve their marketing processes for long-term business results.
You've talked about how challenging it can be for entrepreneurs to grow their business when they're just starting out. What are the essential business skills entrepreneurs need to be successful as franchisees?
Although starting a business these days can be easy, particularly if the entrepreneur is franchising, success is never so easy. As a retired navy aviator myself, taking risks was always part of my livelihood. I actually didn't realize how risk averse so many people are when they decide to start a business. The first skill you must embrace is overcoming risk aversion. You must know you will fail and learn how to covert failure to success. This is what allows a new business owner to not fear being the leader in their local market, which is always what they should aim for.
Second is knowing that by becoming a business owner, you've actually chosen to become a marketer that happens to own a business (as one of my mentors used to make sure I understood). The new franchisee must grasp the importance of marketing strategies and processes in order to grow and then dominate in their respective market. Franchise owners must have a marketing strategy (online, this involves technology) to achieve the fastest growth and greatest market share they can. A business owner doesn't need to be a technology expert, but she does need to know what technology to use for marketing and sales, and how to work with the franchisor to get it.
I know from a lifetime of experience that those with a real marketing strategy – with well-defined steps that can be measured – are the ones that will see the greatest success and largest growth. Too many new entrepreneurs dive in without a viable strategy (or any strategy at all), and they're pretty much doomed to failure, or at least a long and expensive learning process. Getting the right strategy up-front saves the business owner tens of thousands of dollars, and gets them profitable and growing in just months.
Third, is knowing what your market wants and needs, and knowing how to relate to them in their terms. This is true online and off – but even more vital online because the entrepreneur only has web pages to act on their behalf, and only seconds to gain the attention of the viewer.
You may have noticed I don't mention accounting, or economics or any of that business school stuff as the critical business skills for new franchisees. This is because you can hire people who have those skills, but you can't just hire the confidence, vision and market knowledge that makes a successful entrepreneur.
One of the pieces of advice you often give franchisees is that they need insightful marketing to be successful and grow. What distinguishes insightful marketing from more typical marketing?
Insightful marketing is really exactly like it sounds. Successful direct marketing for any small business owner (and franchisees especially) is always about getting into the conversation already happening inside potential customer's head the very instant they are looking for a solution.
This means knowing what potential customers really want, and how they think the problem will be fixed. You must have insight into their thoughts and emotions surrounding their desire. When you do, you have a lock on not only delivering what they need and want, but also what they don't even know they need. By giving them this extraordinary value from your product or service, you deliver an unforgettable customer experience and you create a relationship between your business and the customer that encourages loyalty.
Franchisees can't just rely on their own tenacity and intelligence to succeed. How can entrepreneurs develop the tools to improve their employees' professional skills?
When we work with business owners who are interested in business coaching we use a 6-step process. Professional skills isn't really part of coaching. Creating clarity and expanding vision is a big part of the process to be sure the training for employees is in the areas of greatest need.
For business owners looking to improve employee performance, ThinkBigandGrow Media has created the Local Market Dominator System. This program focuses on training employees and staff about the role they play in the business, why that role is important, and how being active participant improves their position.
The training teaches them that building the company reputation in a personal way brings more customers in the door, and keeps existing customers coming back. Our training shows the staff how they are a vital cog in this system. So we focus on customer relationship building, an essential understanding of local marketing, and how the "humanness" of the staff fits in the process.
What are the most important recent developments in the marketing industry that franchisees must know about?
I've been in strategy, coaching and leadership for over 35 years. I've been using these skills in marketing since 2007. I was somewhat suckered, like many, when I started marketing online believing everything online has changed marketing beyond recognition. That was because, at that time, I had not studied much about marketing.
I quickly learned that what's changed is the technology, not the marketing. The great marketers of the 20th century pretty much nailed down market messaging and what to do. The David Ogilvys, Claude Hopkinses, Robert Colliers, and Gary Halberts are really still the basis for everything. What's truly different is the ability to distribute these messages and process in online media. We have long been doing upsells, cross-sells, and down-sells, and entrepreneurs of all kinds have to know how to make all of those techniques work for their business. Automating it all to create relationships and local customer engagement is the real magic of today's marketing world.
How can business owners and franchisees make the best of today's marketing opportunities, while avoiding the pitfalls?
Marketing technology changes fast. But this doesn't mean a small business like a franchise location needs every gadget or gimmick to be a leader in their market. They just need the right technology that gets results for them.
Therein lies the pitfall. Too many franchisees don't have a marketing strategy (even if they think they do), so they can't determine what technology they truly need, let alone how to use it. At ThinkBigandGrow we get the most productive results for new franchisees by first building and marketing a business's reputation. We have the automation to do this, and it doesn't require a business to keep chasing one automation tool after another that doesn't work for them. To be able to make the most of opportunities in a specific market requires a strategy first.