Franchise Content Marketing with John Di Natale

 

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In This Episode:
02:05 – Getting to know John Di Natale, and his experience in relation to the Franchise Industry.
03:24 – How the internet and multimedia content marketing is impacting the franchise industry?
05:11 – Where in the lifecycle of the franchise industry should internet marketing and content marketing be adopted?
06:20 – Internet marketing and content marketing specifically for franchises
09:33 – Why recruitment and franchising as a process should involve itself more in the social media space?
15:50 – Putting good content in social media but making sure to drives traffic back to your website
16:56 – Importance of training for new franchisees
17:19 – Top 3 mistakes that companies make in terms of training and system aspect of franchising
19:36 – Questions prospective franchisees need to ask before investing
22:40 – Essentials of franchisee ideas shared across a group of franchisees
24:19 – What are the things that a master franchisee can do to support their franchisees?
25:50 – What should be the general focus of franchisees?
27:33 – Where John Di Natale sees the biggest opportunity for growth for franchises in the coming years?
28:41 – Examples of franchisors and franchisees doing well on the digital space

 

Transcription:

Liza: Hi, this is Liza Choa, founder of Content Maximiser. I want to welcome you to another episode of the Content Maximiser podcast. If you are thinking about growing your business, expanding nationally or internationally, or franchising, then I have got a real treat for you. Today our special guest is John Di Natale. John is the managing director of Axis Advisory. They have over 20 years experience in helping their clients build a more profitable, more exciting and more rewarding businesses. Axis Advisory will help you develop and implement the best strategy to grow your business, attract capital, increase sales, boost profits and maximise asset value. With a strong background in franchising, John and I had a great conversation on franchise content marketing, the challenges and the opportunities for the franchise industry. So now let’s get straight into it. Good afternoon John.

John: Hello Liza. How are you?

Liza: I am excellent, how are you?

John: Pretty well thank you.

Liza: Thanks for joining us on this podcast.

John: It’s a pleasure. Thank you.

Liza: I listened to the other podcast that you did with Business Blueprint with Dale Beaumont, I thought, oh wow, awesome content here. I thought to myself I must invite you so then you said yes.

John: Thank you very much.

 

Can you tell us your background in relations to franchising?

Liza: Let’s just get straight into it. Before we get started maybe you can share with the listeners a bit about yourself especially with your experience in relation to the franchise industry.

John: Sure. For the last twenty years or so, I have been involved in business consulting with a focus on business growth, franchising and network development. Any people that have businesses where there are multiple points of presence, whether they are officers, retail outlets or people on the road, that’s been my focus. I work with a whole range of small to medium size and very large enterprises internationally as well. I worked for some of the major consulting firms around the world based in Asia. I have done some work out of the UK and Europe as well. My focus has always been working with business owners on growing their business with a particular emphasis on franchising or distribution networks. That is the key. I now run a consulting business out of Melbourne. We work nationally and internationally on exactly those things. We are working closely with clients about growing their business and helping them build a more satisfying, rewarding and ultimate more profitable business.

Liza: Nice. With twenty years of experience, that is quite a while.

John: It is a bit sad. Thank you for that.

 

How do you think the internet and multimedia content marketing is impacting the franchise industry?

Liza: I was very surprised when you said twenty years actually. How do you think the internet and multimedia content marketing is impacting the franchise industry?

John: I think those things have affected business across the globe. It hasn’t just affected franchising but the way we do business. The entire spectrum has changed significantly in the last 10 years. I think that’s the same with the franchise businesses. If you had this discussion 5 years ago, most franchisors were saying; should we do something about that social media? Should we have a Facebook page? Should we do something online? Now, the conversation has changed significantly. Everybody is doing it. They are saying how do we do it right? How do we maximiser our return our investment? How do we measure it? How do we control it? Everyone’s involved in it. Everyone is certainly aware of it and making efforts to use social media and the online space to help grow their business. I am sure some are doing it better than others.

Liza: It sounds like from what you are saying is 5-10 years ago, the question is should we? Now people know we should. Now it’s how can we get the best way to utilise the different mediums?

John: Absolutely; I can understand how it gets confusing for business owners because where do you start? What do you do? How do you manage it? How do you control it? What content do you put up or not put up. How do you control what other people say about you and your brand? Can you control that? There are a hundred questions about managing an online space. I think most businesses are still grappling with it. I think most businesses have put their toe in the water and are doing something. I think for most businesses it is still an ongoing area to develop.

 

Where is the life cycle in terms of the adaptation of content marketing and social media is for the franchise industry?

Liza: My next question is when you think in the life cycle of the industry in terms of adopting the internet marketing and content marketing. Do you still think it’s at an early stage where a few companies immerse in it or do you think it’s in the medium part of the life cycle where a lot of companies are taking advantage of it now?

John: I think most organisations are at least aware of it and doing something in this space. The question is; is what they are doing useful? Is it the right thing to be doing? Is it adding value to their business or their brand? In some cases, it could be detracting from their brand. If social media wasn’t an incredible powerful mechanism for communication and staying in touch, it can be equally powerful in its negative effects. It’s all very well said when we’d like to go viral on social media but hopefully you are going viral for the right reasons.

Liza: They said that bad news travels way faster than good news.

John: That’s probably true.

Liza: I want to now talk about more specific in relations to franchises and there are three types of audiences when you look at that industry. You’ve got the master franchise and what they want to do is they want to sell their franchise so the first type of audience is prospective buyer. The second one is once they do come aboard, they become a franchisee so the information that they need is very different. Then finally, you got the customers of these franchises and these tend to be the consumers. Each group requires different needs. I want to have a chat about each of these groups and their needs when it comes to content marketing and online marketing. So John, in your opinion, what do you think are some of the challenges that some of the franchisors face when it comes to attracting more leads and converting these leads into franchise buyers? 

What do you think are some of the challenges that franchisors face when it comes to attracting more leads and converting these leads into franchise buyers?

John: I think you are absolutely right with being different audiences and different approaches with those audiences. If you are a franchisor then your plan is to create new franchisees, that social media content is very different then what you would put out for your customers, the end users for your services.

In the franchisee recruitment space, there is a lot more room for improvement. I don’t think many franchisors use content marketing particularly well in the franchisee recruitment space. I think the focus has been more on the consumer end of the spectrum.  Interestingly that is true for both B to B type franchises. They are effectively making customers out of other businesses. There are also B to C franchise groups are getting with consumers in the general sense of the word. There are very different challenges.  As a franchisor, if you have a franchise network of 40-50 franchisees or 4-5 for that matter, one of your challenges is to control what the franchisees do on social media. The other question also is, do you as the franchisor manage and control centrally on the social media content that goes with your brand which is fine on the one hand. On the other hand, social media is really about local content. It’s about local connections. It’s about getting into your community and local environment and connecting with people in that sense. You have to try to balance out the central control with the local content.  That is a challenge for franchisors. There are some people doing that very well. Even though it’s managed from head office, they still include lots of local content at the franchisee level. That way, if you have a store that has 300-400 km, you have to be able to manage the local content so people in that area feel like their local franchisee is part of their community. 

Liza: It’s very interesting that you said that. What I am hearing is that in the franchise space, when it comes to social media and content marketing, there is more emphasis being done on the brand level to the consumer but not so much in the space of recruiting franchisees.

John: I think that is probably true that franchisee recruitment as a process could probably involve itself more in the content marketing space. I think the emphasis is predominantly on how to engage with our customers. Liza: Interesting because we are engaging some clients in this space and their goal is to sell more franchises so recruiting franchise buyers. Traditionally it has been a very text based kind of content so people make an inquiry online, they would email out a brochure. What they found is that when they talked to these people, 90% of them haven’t even read the brochure. When people don’t even read the brochure and the company is putting all their energy in putting that together and when you find out that most people haven’t even read it, they’ve got very good content but maybe the medium that is in is not the most effective for their target audience. What we are looking at in helping this particular client to do is actually turn the same information that have been in the video formats so people can watch the video rather than reading a brochure. If you look around, there are more people who watch TV than read a book. What do you think?

John: I think that is very true. It has changed the way we take in information in the last 10 years. If you catch any train or bus or tram if you happen to be in Melbourne and look at the people around you, 99% of those people will be on their phones. They will be reading, watching something or listening to something on their phone. We’ve taken information in smaller bytes these days. If you send something that is 5 pages longer, it will take a few days to read now.

Liza: If you do videos for example, this gentleman that I am dealing with, he is so passionate about what he does. That passion, it would be harder to convey that passion through text then it is through video or audio.

John: I think there is no question that the best approach to this is to have multiple media and different mechanisms of connecting to people on all types of different levels. I think in any marketing strategy to hang your hat so to speak on one element where you just have print or a brochure, it is going to be difficult to get the cut through you need. People take in a lot of information every day. For you to stand out in that noise if you like, you have to do something interesting, engaging and unique. I think the approach of capturing that video, finding other ways to convey that passion across different mediums is the right way to go. The beauty with technology these days is that the analytics whereas if it was text, you can’t tell how many pages someone has read. I don’t think there is technology to show that so far. With videos, you can see how much of the video has someone watched and whether they are repeating parts or skipping certain parts down to the individual basis.  What that means is if you are dealing with a potential franchise buyer, you can see that someone has watched a whole video compared to another potential buyer that hasn’t consumed any of your content from a follow up process. Even the 80/20 rule that the viewer that consumes more of your content is the hotter buyer. I think that is one of the advantages of having a well-managed well controlled social media campaign is that you can actually get that feedback. You can test different approaches. You can look at results for those approaches. You can fine tune your messaging and how you present certain parts of your business or opportunity. You can really get almost real time measurement for what’s working and what’s not. Where as with traditional marketing campaigns this is difficult to do. I think franchises that are using that mechanism will be at an advantage in front of the rest of the market.

Can you think of any particular franchise group that is using content marketing and social media well for franchise recruitment?

Liza: With so many franchise groups that you work with, can you think of any particular groups that are doing this recruitment process well?

John: It is more about how they engage with their market to be honest. As I mentioned recruitment hasn’t been a key focus with the people that I’ve been working with. I know there has been some fairly good coverage of media websites and articles around the space recently with organisations like Kwik Kopy for instance. Kwik Kopy is a B2B brand effectively. Their customers are businesses getting printing done. They have done a very good job of centrally managing their social media presence but they have relevance by showing local information and local office and promotions. Head office information on every level is there. They’ve done well in terms of getting on that and getting out there and getting people to engage with them and also means driving traffic back to their website. That way people can order their business cards or brochures or whatever they wish and have them printed.

Liza: Nice, you mentioned something very critical there. It is very often that you’ve got companies that do things on social media like Facebook. All the content they use in those platforms, they aren’t driving traffic back to the site. That is where the conversion happens. It is really important to put good content out there but always drive people back to your sites. I think some people say we are doing that because of brand building; ultimately everything you do in marketing is designed to grow your business. Whether it is like getting franchisees or customers on board, ultimately that is why we go out and run these campaigns. Brand building should be more of a side effect to the major objective in my view.

John: I totally agree with you. I think when you can drive traffic back to a website where people can make a buying decision and people decide to try to get into your business, then that is a good thing.

What are some of the top 3 mistakes that these companies make in terms of training or the system aspect of franchising?

Liza: Okay sure, so now we are going to move on to the next group in the franchise industry and that is the franchisees themselves. When someone decides to buy a franchise and they get involved with you and what is important is your training. What are some of the top 3 mistakes that these companies make in terms of training or the system aspect of franchising?

John: Interesting question. The first mistake is not having any training. Sadly, it’s a fairly common thing but not having any real effective training. Often, a franchisee will come in and will be shown the ropes over the couple of days and then they are left alone in a merry way and run their business. That is the first mistake, not training program that is well designed and well developed. I think the second mistake was to leave them alone and just expect that they will do things that they are trained to do. Training is an ongoing process. If you can train somebody, I will learn some things. You have to work with them and alongside them and make sure they implement those things and that they can continue to learn and grow. That is important as well. I think the third common shortfall in this area would be not measuring the effectiveness of your training. This would be translating it into the right action and the right results at the business level. The training is like any HR area if you like. It will be seemingly simple but in reality quite complex process to manage on an ongoing basis.

Liza: Well it is differently worthwhile for the master franchise to really invest in a good training system for their franchisees. It is because, depending on the structure of the franchise, the better the franchisees do, the more lucrative it is for the master franchise.

John: The two fortunes are very closely entwined and there is no question about that. I think when you are a prospective franchisee doing due diligence on a franchise opportunity, it is important to investigate whether the franchise has invested in developing a good franchise system, and if they have invested in the training programs? Do they have the training portals, materials, systems, processes and mechanisms to measure them in place? Ask lots of questions. What can you expect whilst in training? What can you expect if things aren’t going well? What can you expect if you need to be trained further? Prospective franchisees need to ask as many questions as possible as long as they feel a need to. It is really to understand the opportunity and get involved.

Liza: It sounds like from a training standpoint, that number one, the master franchise should really have a good training system or portal, ideally maybe in multimedia because that will be easier for people to consume that information. Secondly, make sure that it’s ongoing rather than just at the beginning. Maybe having different modules and different phases of the franchisee’s time with the group so that they are always getting developed. Finally, what could be really worthwhile is having some type of test or exam but not to that degree but then just to make sure that whatever has been taught in a certain module gets locked in and they really understand it before they keep going.

John: That is absolutely right. The test or those elements, they will check the competency so somebody has understood their training or what they’ve been trained on. What that doesn’t measure is how they implement it but ultimately there is no point doing training unless it’s implemented throughout the business. That is the key vision is what is being implemented, what is having a positive effect on the business, what can we improve on, what can we continue to focus on and what areas need work. That is the assessment piece.

Liza: I would imagine the training content will also be ongoing and will always be evolving because you may get one franchise group or franchisee does really well in a certain area and when they give the feedback, it can be implemented across the other franchises and systemising that and creating training materials so other franchises can refer back to it.

John: Absolutely. Business doesn’t sit still for very long as you already know or your listeners know. Things change very quickly. You have to stay ahead of the curve if you can. It is a challenge for every business to stay on the ball and make sure that they are training on the latest information. You made a good point there in terms of franchisee ideas being shared across the group. That is one of the main things is that you have 20-30 other operators running a business similar to yours and they will develop better ways of doing things and develop ideas, promotional ideas and campaigns and ways to engage with customers. If you were on your own, you couldn’t do those things. In a franchise structure, you have the opportunity to benefit from the synergy or collective intelligence of the group which I think is one of the major benefits of being involved in a good franchise group.

Liza: That reminded me that a very good friend of mine, he owns a few Jets Fitness franchise. He is also in the internet marketing space as I am and as a result he has done some very good campaigns using platforms such as Facebook and marketing and so forth. As a result he became the franchisee of the year. What he is doing now is working with the head office to put content together to train other franchises in how to use social media and multimedia as a platform to grow their business.

John: That exactly demonstrates the point that I was making. Having one person that has got a very good idea or approach and that flows through the rest of the group in which they reap the benefits of those smarts. That is really important.

What are some of the things the master franchise could do to support their franchisees to get more customers?

Liza: Now I want to move on to the final group which are the consumers. These are the customers of the franchisees. In regards to helping these franchisees to get more customers; for example, marketing their brand or teaching your franchisees how to market themselves, what are some of the things the master franchise could do to support their franchisees in this area?

John: I think having an awareness of social media and how it works. Most of the franchisors are developing social media obligations and putting those into their franchise agreements. They are having that structure the right way. They have social media policies that guide people in how to use social media the right way and more importantly how not to use social media. It is also about having the right legalities in place in terms of conditions are concerned or competitions being run or promotions and I believe franchisors can manage that process while the franchisee can build the required compliance elements and that sort of thing. We’ve talked about training already and that will continue to be important. I think the franchisor ultimately has the responsibility to monitor what the franchisees are doing and ensure that they aren’t damaging the brand or saying the wrong things and making offers that they shouldn’t be making, whatever the case may be. I think that is where it sits. For the franchisees, their main focus should be on how to engage my local community. That is one of the strengths of franchises is that you have a national brand and a local presence. So you know for some brands, that is how to engage with the local pubs and sports clubs or the mothers groups, whatever it has to be for that type of business or rather business owners or whatever the case may be. How do I concentrate on connecting with those people, generating content that is relevant for those different segments depending on what my business needs and making sure that I can do it in a way that doesn’t damage my brand or the franchisors brand? 

Liza: When you say that, what comes to mind for example is like my local McDonalds sponsoring different school events and church events and what not. They get involved in the community a lot don’t they?

John: Absolutely and that is the benefit of having the local presence. McDonalds is of course a global brand and they have a big local presence in their market.

Liza: I guess the master franchise is teaching the franchisees to do these sorts of things and activities

John: Absolutely, and a process to follow that and do that relatively easily because business owners have a lot of things to do. Social media is going to be one of the many tasks that they have to continue to be over a day or a week. Often it isn’t the highest priority. If you can make it easier for people by structuring your content and make it easier for the local community by posting the right information, it will certainly help that brand.

Where do you see the biggest opportunity for growth for franchises in the next few years?

Liza: Great, also to wrap up John, where do you see the biggest opportunity for growth for franchises in the next few years?

John: That is a big broad question. You want to stay focused on social media for the moment?

Liza: Probably social media and digital content and so forth.

John: I think there is still massive opportunity. I think there are still massive upsides for franchise groups. As I said at the beginning of our discussion, most franchise systems haven’t really yet immersed themselves entirely in this space. I think there is certainly opportunity for people to continue to learn how to use this space more effectively, how to continue to build their brand in this space, how to engage with their customers and their communities and I think what that will do is that those franchises or organisational groups can really master this technique or skill, it will create a nice competitive bonus in the marketplace.

Liza: Okay, I mean with some of the clients that you work with, can you think of any examples that they are doing particularly well in the digital space. Can you share those examples?

John: There are a couple of my clients that are getting their head around this quite well. We have one client in particular who was in the automotive area. If you want to talk about passionate people, people who own cars and custom cars and prestige cars or whatever kind of cars they are into, they are very passionate about their cars. They have one well to engage with these people not so much with their services, they are a car detailing type business but the social media piece isn’t really about telling people about services, its more about sharing the passion for cars. People get incredibly excited about those cars and I’ve worked in a car space for a number of years and I’ve seen how passionate people can be about them through the number of viewers. What this particular client is doing is really feeding on that passion that the clients have for motor cars. That means they stay very much involved with their brand and that means they stay on top of their minds when people think about their cars or having their cars detailed for the weekend or show or expo. If you can find the passionate connection with your market whatever it happens to be, that is much stronger than just pushing out your particular message.

Liza: This reminded me of a new book by Gary Vaynerchuk, who is like the godfather of content marketing and him starting with wineTV.com. With every bottle, he does a video. With his book, Jab,Jab, Jab, Right Hook, he talks about the idea that you give and give and then you take. With your content, it is always about giving and then you ask for a sale or ask for people to look at your services. It is always a focus on giving first and in your particular case of this kind that you mentioned, and it’s about the passion to do with cars and all the cool things with cars.

John: If you are doing this really well, you don’t need to ask. If you are connecting in that way with your potential customers, when the time comes, they will come and find you. Basically they will want to talk to you. I think it’s pretty much about being generous with your content. It is very much about tapping into people’s interests and passions and desires as far as your brand is concerned and building your presence, credibility and genuine desire to connect with your customers and look after them.

Liza: I agree with you and one thing I will add with knowing the content that you create, that who is the type of audience? Is it the consumer of your audience or your potential franchise buyer? The content or information that they need will be very different so have separate strategies for each of those groups.

John: That is very true. There is some overlap. Your perspective franchise buyers will want to know how you are engaging with consumers or end users. That is what they are though. Very different strategies exist and you will have to think of them separately in all respects.

Liza: Well John, Thank you so much for your time and sharing your golden nuggets in this podcast. Listeners, If you want to learn more about John and if he can help you grow your business, then go to axisadvisory.com.au and we will include the link in the show note, so you can click on it and connect with you and see how you can help them John. John: Thanks Liza, I really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.

Liza: Thank you also. Have a great day and I will talk to you soon. I hope you enjoyed this podcast with John and if you are in the franchise business I hope you identified some opportunities for you in terms of content marketing and how you can get more out of this digital space. By the way, if you want to have a look at your online presence and see where you can get more enquiries, just go to contentmaximiser.com/gift and enter your details and we will do a review and will give you 3 action items that you can implement right away. Once again, thanks for listening and I look forward to seeing you at the next podcast.

 

Resources

  • To learn more about John Di Natale and Axis advisory, please visit http://www.axisadvisory.com.au
  • We can help you to plan, design and implement a franchise buyer recruitment system. get us to have a look at your current website and we can discuss how you can improve your current online performance: Check My Website

 

 

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