BEYOND FRANCHISING: Columbus was wrong. The world is flat.

BEYOND FRANCHISING: Columbus was wrong. The world is flat.

 Flat Earth

As digital marketing and cloud computing taps into the new media revolution, the traditional franchising model is looking out dated, off the pace and out of step for independently minded entrepreneurs.

As the revolution transforms the small and medium business landscape, the traditional franchise model is in urgent need of a rethink.

Traditionally, entrepreneurs have taken one of three steps into self-managed small business: Start a new business from scratch, purchase an existing business, or buy into a franchise system.

Under the old laws of business, franchises afforded the perceived comfort of an established brand; a tried and tested product or service range; established operational procedures and processes; and, in some rare cases, the backing of big-budget marketing and advertising campaigns coming out of head office. All with guaranteed maximum financial reward by drawing a circle around your growth with postcodes, suburbs or products.

Of course, these supposed benefits come with hefty price tags and little to no freedom for independently minded entrepreneurs to run your business in accordance with local market conditions. Moreover, your success is predicated on the continued success of the overreaching franchise, but you have very little influence over head-office management decisions. Governing agencies can prove to be even less effective as paper tigers without true authority.

In franchise dominated industries, such as real estate, where brand awareness is paramount, new marketing models such as ONE AGENCY are shaking up the old guard of franchising. Visionaries such as Paul Davies have alleviated the traditional financial boundaries creating what has become the fastest growing real estate network in Australia.  The effectiveness in their resolve will forever change real estate franchising within Australia and possibly much further abroad.

A great advisor of mine once said the litmus test of buying a franchise is simple; if head office disappeared tomorrow could you continue to prosper in the same field?  If the answer is yes, then why buy a franchise where the future success of your business is taken out of your control?

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This might be okay, even preferable, for non-entrepreneurs, or people looking to buy a job, but it’s a significant problem in the post-GFC economy where innovation is the new currency of success. The business model that flourishes in Brisbane and Miami, for example, falls flat in Bendigo or Austin.

The traditional franchise model also leaves little room for innovation – in product or service development, and in your branding and marketing communications.

That is, a big-budget national television commercial made for a city audience might alienate your regional customer base, or vice-a-versa. And you still must foot the bill regardless of the extent to which head office fails to understand your local target market. Wouldn’t 3% of your gross income sponsoring a local footy team or charity show your commitment to the community and assist in building your profile amongst your customer base? Or would you still prefer a 30 second commercial showing your logo during the Grand Finals of a code no one watches in your state?

So what’s the alternative?

The digital marketing revolution is handing the power back to small and medium business owners who seek the independence of truly going your own way; whom are quite capable of running their own business, but are in need of affordable and effective marketing and operational horsepower.

Digital marketing platforms such as iMAGECLOUD connect entrepreneurs with industry-leading creative professionals, world class service providers, cloud-hosted IT systems and operational processes that grow and evolve with your business and changing marketing conditions; yet offer inherent flexibility not mandated in franchise systems. The size of your cloud is only limited by how blue your sky is.

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By calling on sophisticated, cloud-hosted software, you can launch, manage and review your products and marketing activities, IT systems and operational processes as you evolve your business in line with changing customer needs and local market conditions. With 24 hour support and developers listening to your needs, your creativity becomes your only limitation to success.

Using a cloud-hosted online portal that consolidates all your collateral, supplier management and IT systems in one place is a cost effective and time efficient solution. The power is in your hands as you launch, manage and review your marketing activities and operational processes. All at a fraction of the cost of a franchisor’s demand for un-targeted old media campaigns and mandated operational processes.

Sophisticated digital asset management, with localised controlled marketing and products, essentially levels the playing field. Any SME can now compete with the big guys as you develop marketing campaigns and operational processes, for very little cost with real-time results. This highly targeted approach builds emotional connections and meets the needs of the customer’s local market.

From professional photography and cinematic marketing videos to sophisticated websites and targeted social media campaigns, digital marketing harnesses the power of low-cost new media to attract new customers and boost loyalty. Harnessing the high skills in developing countries throughout the Subcontinent and Asia Pacific, cloud based communication has made the world flat yet again.

The SMEs taking to the seas today will colonise the new world of tomorrow.

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How has technology changed your business model ?

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