Having just returned from the International Franchise Association show, I am prompted to a handful of observations:
1. Orlando in February can be cold, really quite cold. Not Nebraska cold, but nippy none the less.
The economy is clearly on the move again. Franchises represent a great deal of the economy. From fast food to window treatments there was a distinct uptick in sentiment and a lot of interest in what we were offering.
What was especially interesting to me was the recurring theme that “we want to do more online but we can’t figure where the value is.” Time after time we heard the same story – some of the franchisees are doing almost nothing online, most are trying something, and some are spending a lot of money. I won’t name the accused but several names came up time and again as the main culprits. I was a little surprised as the accused are not fly-by-night companies. There was a distinct feeling that the local franchisees are feeling ripped off by the purveyors of clicks and website visits. The message we were leading with resonated with the folks we were talking to. We were focusing on our Pay Per Call lead based program. We drive that through local SEO and SEM but we don’t charge for either. We only charge if we drive interested potential clients…not clicks, but qualified calls.
2. There were a couple of interesting keynote speeches. I thought the Google guy did well to keep a straight face when telling franchisees that they should spend lots of money with them (indeed, if they don’t they will lose up to 88% of their traffic) and be sure that every penny they spend goes straight to Google rather than be spent with an evil advertising agency.
3. The Facebook guy was interesting, but didn’t really have much of a story for local businesses other than “connecting with clients is good” and “Facebook is good,” but hey, it’s a start.
4. The other observation I had was that Bill O’Reilly’s speech needed a little work in terms of relevancy. His speech to the assembled ranks of the IFA was packed with the kind of “aw shucks folks, it’s just little old me on your side,” and without any real effort to tailor it to the audience.