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To be Successful in the Future, Learn From the Past

The biggest lesson learned in 2011 is the same lesson the franchise industry should have been learning over the past several years. If a franchise business wants to remain competitive, it needs to be able to adapt to the changing trends in culture and technology. This is a simple rule that predates banner ads, mobile devices and social media. Technology is changing the mediums with which franchise companies communicate to their target audience. A well thought-out strategy and thoughtfully executed creative are still essential to get your message across, but even the most brilliant ideas will be considered failures if they fall on deaf ears. The job in 2012 will be to continue to push the best message forward while using technology to get it out to the intended audience.

The Train May Have Left the Station, But Stay on the Platform
The notion of being an early adopter or on the vanguard of social media has passed; that train has already left the station. However, one of the lessons learned in 2011 is that there is always another train coming. There are still plenty of opportunities to climb aboard. There are a lot of different sites out there, all vying and purporting to be the next big thing. But what you really need to be concerned about is what will be the most successful and advantageous for your company. Basics such as having a Facebook and Twitter presence are important, but you need to use them effectively. Too many companies have a minimal presence in social media. In 2012 it’s time to use this tool to its full potential.

Engage the Consumer
The main purpose for using these resources is to engage a consumer who is already out there and active in social media. Their demographic reach is growing, and their use of new technologies is changing the social landscape. The advent of the steam engine in the 19th century changed the physical landscape of the countryside and linked far-flung places via a system of rails. Then, the invention of the automobile in the 20th century gave the regular person mobility unheard of in human history. Later, the MTV era made it so someone in a small town was exposed to the same fashions at nearly the same time as his or her coastal counterparts.
The notion of being an early adopter or on the vanguard of social media has passed.

Through technology, the world continues to grow smaller. Culture is transformed by these adaptations, and smart advertisers need to be ready to take advantage of this. Today, businesses are witnessing a change in the intellectual landscape. The ability of peers and specialists to be able to share information simultaneously in real time points to a bright future. This type of instant communication will help us make better decisions quicker. Franchise businesses will be able to adjust their media strategies with more relevant information, which will make their efforts much more effective.

Embrace the New
One of the latest social media sites that has been getting a lot of attention lately is Pinterest, which is a social bulletin board where people can easily post items of interest to save and share. It has been growing rapidly because users are able to interact with people of similar interests. Pin boards exist in an infinite array of interests, anything from motorcycle repair to candle making, and everything in between. It has something to offer any demographic, which is what makes it so useful. Companies are starting to find their Pinterest referrals are exceeding those of other social media avenues. A few savvy companies have already begun to take advantage of this opportunity. Land’s End ran a contest over the past holiday season. The contest drove users to pin their favorite Land’s End item on their individual pin boards and then send a link for a chance to win a $250 gift card. This use of an emerging media platform that directly engages the audience in a way that is completely unobtrusive is brilliant and something all can learn from.
One of the latest social media sites that has been getting a lot of attention lately is Pinterest.
A Little Strategy Goes a Long Way
In a digital society, there are many different vehicles in which to deliver a message. However, it’s still crucial to have solid strategy and creative execution behind this communication. Needing to do a banner ad for your media buy doesn’t mean simply running a billboard on a computer screen. There are effective and creative ways to utilize the technologies at hand. QR codes, for instance, seem to pop up on every piece of advertising, but often merely diminish the design. If your business is going to use a QR code, it should find a way to use it creatively and interact with the consumer. For example, a QR code scavenger hunt as a part of a competition is one way to do this. Just because a technology exists, it doesn’t mean it necessarily needs to be used. But if your research and media plan outlines this need, then your company should use it in a unique way that will ultimately get your brand noticed by your target audience, which in turn, will drive sales.
How Much is Too Much?
Everybody hates spam. Intrusive banner ads that annoy rather than entice people to click need to be changed. To effectively engage the consumer, it is more helpful to do it in a positive way. Putting a negative light on your company just to drive a few more clicks of the mouse is not a good idea. Online coupon services may seem like a good use of your advertising budget and is certainly useful to many subscribers, but the overuse of this platform can lead to consumer malaise. In the era of “Big Data,” franchise businesses need to use the analytics and statistics available to them to help decide where to best use their advertising dollars. Technology is giving companies more opportunity than ever to specifically target their audience.

Creativity Still Goes a Long Way
Traditional advertising is not dead. It’s quite alive and well. If the Mad Mean character Don Draper was in business today, he’d still be sending out the best messaging to communicate with his target audience, but he’d be using 21st century tools. People will always be drawn to the human element. Advertising in 2012 will continue to speak to people on an emotional level. The only change will be the platforms on which communications are written. The future is very promising if companies aren’t afraid to embrace the new and learn to become early adopters. This is as true now as it was back in the day when Gutenberg himself designed the first printed piece to sell his latest invention. Whether your message is painted on a cave wall or an augmented reality feature using a smartphone, your franchise business still needs to have a message that piques the interest of your intended target. 
Dawn Kane is president of Hot Dish Advertising, a full-service advertising agency. She can be reached at 612-746-8414 or dkane@hotdishadvertisng.com.

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