What You Need to Know About Transformative Technology

Marketing

Attention Franchise Marketers: The future is arriving … quickly!

By Jamie Izaks and Katharine Nichols

Transformative technology is technology that inspires a change or causes a shift in viewpoint. The term encompasses multiple industries and sectors from education to healthcare and also applies to marketing. In marketing, there have been several transformative technologies that have changed the industry over the past 20 years, including the Internet, smart phones, the “cloud,” and social media, among many others. 

Technology is constantly evolving, becoming more streamlined, mobile, connected and automated. There are new opportunities for advertising and marketing than ever before, but also more nuances and details. Mobile marketing, nearfield communication and marketing automation have become huge game changers that can greatly impact one’s return on investment. The industry’s biggest players including Apple, Google and Facebook, maintain significant control in many instances, so marketers must be savvy to the constantly evolving playing field.

What does this mean for franchisors and franchisees? 

Although transformative technology can be a daunting concept, we encourage you to take it one step at a time. There are many small steps to create a comprehensive plan that embraces transformative technology options. 

Here are five key points to keep in mind:

•    Seismic cultural shift to mobile

According to a study by comScore, the number of mobile users exceeded the number of desktop users in 2014 in the United States. Additionally, consumers are spending most their time consuming digital media within applications. In fact, the percentage of time spent on apps is 86 percent, compared to 14 percent for mobile web.

The shift to mobile and mobile apps is not a fad; it’s a cultural transformation. Making sure your website is mobile-optimized and that you are considering potential apps are important discussions to be having today.

•    Make sure you are well-protected

According to Experian’s 2015 Data Breach Industry Forecast, “For businesses, the risk of experiencing a data breach is higher than ever with almost half of organizations suffering at least one security incident in the last 12 months. To address this, 48 percent of organizations increased investments in security technologies in the same timeframe, and 73 percent acknowledged the likelihood of a breach by developing a data breach response plan.”

In fact, “hacking as a service” is now a growing industry. Making sure you have a cyber security system and a crisis management plan in place is extremely important. Consider everything hackable.

•    Information is easier to find than ever

Google search terms and Boolean logic make finding information as easy as typing in a few characters. Someone who wants to find information can search Google, scan social media, look at review sites, or get access to public records. These tools can be extremely helpful or an extreme nuisance. Be cognizant of what you post or share online. Almost everything online is archived and can be found.

•    Streamline your social media with helpful apps

There are a number of helpful apps that can be utilized to streamline social media sites for franchisors and franchisees. These include HootSuite and Crowdbooster, which allow you to post to multiple social media platforms at the same time from one dashboard and visualize your analytics. 

What to keep in mind about transformative technology

The opportunities to market your brand are endless, but it’s important to examine everything with a critical eye. 

Here are four main points to keep in mind as you examine new technologies:

•    Walk before you run

Take each suggestion and recommendation to transform your tech one step at a time. If your website is not yet mobile-optimized, use that as your starting block. If you are already mobile-optimized, start to examine apps.

•    Evaluate opportunities, but don’t feel compelled to do everything

This point is especially important for social media purposes. For example, a restaurant or vendor that sells products would probably benefit from a Pinterest and Instagram account, where they can show off specific items. A service-based franchise, however, may not be a good fit for visual social media platforms.

•    Stay true to your brand and demographic

Creating a loyal online following comes after you have created a loyal customer base. Utilize technology to enhance your brand, but not to change it. Apps and social media sites provide new platforms to reach your demographic, but can also lead you astray.

Deeper Dive: Five Ways Transformative Technology Can More Efficiently Tell Your Brand’s Story

Now that you know more about transformative technologies and how to integrate them into your franchise businesses, let us transition into a discussion on how they can provide compelling pathways for brand storytelling — how you share your brand’s vibe, culture and values through persistent and engaging marketing programs.

1.    Incorporate video into all forms of digital marketing

First and foremost, in today’s online marketing world, video always wins. Why? Because human beings are likely to spend extended periods of time watching moving images and sounds. Static text or photos don’t command the same kind of attention from web. As such, search engines and social media sites such as Facebook reward the use of video.

Incorporate well-shot and tightly edited video productions into your digital assets. Websites, social posts, blogs, landing pages and more with video always outperform other formats. Pivoting your mindset on this from static text and photos to active video takes a team effort. Your social and public relations team, web developers, e-mail distribution company and more all need to collaborate to bring video to the forefront. Several marketing departments at franchise companies are already shifting resources towards full-time video production teams.

2.    Mobile apps are more than just for placing orders

Mobile apps provide brands a unique storytelling opportunity, but it takes creative ideas to think beyond the typical app, which most commonly is designed to allow customers to place orders. 

Additional options to consider include:

•    Customer-driven, branded photos and videos,

•    Video games,

•    Project management – keep your customers up to date,

•    Behind the scenes access to news, information and executives only available on the app, and

•    Alert push notifications.

The list goes on, but more importantly, mobile apps provide a platform to continue the story about your brand. As mobile devices outpace other forms of computer technologies, developing an app strategy is going to become increasingly common. 

3.    Tread lightly on in-store technologies

There are a variety of in-store marketing considerations to make, such as oversized monitors and self-ordering kiosks, but today’s hottest in-store marketing topic is the beacon. 

Becoming all the rage in retail, beacons are simple Bluetooth technologies that can customize dining, shopping, traveling and entertainment experiences by tracking customer experiences.

For example, a guest could arrive at hotel and be greeted with a very personal message based on their preferences and travel history. Their hotel amenities usage, such as restaurants and workout facility, could all be tracked, and special messages could then be shared with that guest throughout their visit. The transmission of data back and forth between customers and brands is powerful and can be used to create an experience completely personal.

4.    Content aggregation

Until recently it was hard to justify spending the thousands that it would take to thoroughly monitor your brand online – review sites, social media, message boards, blogs and more. 

But, content aggregation tools have come a long way. These monitoring applications can assist immensely and will be transformative in terms of your ability to assess sentiment, respond to complaints, resolve issues and more effectively tell your brand story. 

You will take greater control over your brand’s story by being able to “social listen” with greater ease and shape conversation in real time. 

A few to consider include Hootsuite for Agencies, Likeable VIP and Agorapulse.  

5.    Virtual Reality

Now this is some heavy stuff. It’s rarely seen today, but you’ll be hearing more about it on a regular basis in the coming years. Virtual reality will become a consumer marketing channel that will vastly enhance brand storytelling. 

Consider that you will be able to visit a restaurant virtually before setting foot in it. Or, that you can visualize products and services before they are actually in hand or performed. Leading companies such as Google have begun to transform our world into virtual experiences. 

Gartner, a technology research firm, predicts that 25 million virtual headsets will be in consumer hands by 2018…the future is arriving quickly. 

Jamie Izaks is president and founder of All Points Public Relations and Katharine Nichols is a senior lead for the company. Find them at fransocial.franchise.org