I've read some posts on various industry portals that state that SEO is a better alternative to find franchise prospects than the franchise search engine portals (all well known to those in the industry).

Let's take a close look at these suppositions and what I call unfounded fear being driven in the minds of franchise sales executives.

Are we going to let an article change our behavior that has proven results? We need to look behind this.

One comment on a franchise group page came right out and basically said in effect that "internet franchise search portals" are dead. To me it's irresponsible to make such a bold statement. There is absolutely no hard metrics to make this statement. In fact it appears to be self-promoting. Is it relevant that the declaration was made by a group of people that are trying to get their audience to use their SEO services? Nothing worse than self-promoting declarations ungrounded in science.

I don't believe that lead generation portal advertising is dead -- and not by a long-shot.

It's true -- all franchisors want to direct prospects direct their websites. And social media is one way to do this. Any franchisor not implementing practices and programs to capture this kind of lead from the deep dark sea of prospects is missing out on growth opportunities.

In my view social media is part of a mix and to not drive leads through the franchise search portals is a huge mistake in spending. The franchisor that dismisses it as "dead" shows a lack of respect for the science behind lead generation. They do studies and their conversion rates are verifiable. Conversion metrics are proven.

It's true that brokers buy leads. But is this inherently bad? I find it rewarding to work with brokers. By and large they do a good job working with their clients to match them with franchises that will lead to fulfilling business lives.

But there are more reasons not to ignore the portals.

Users of portals do so at early stages of thinking about owning a business. They get to wander around and the media form becomes aspirational. Decisions get made over longer periods of time that that which social media is designed to prompt. To spend all the money on SEO is unwise because that is extremely costly as well and with wise spending on the portals one is "fishing where all the fish swim". They may not all want what we have to offer -- but at least our wares are for sale in the same marketplace.

Second, It's hard to know exactly what the user does, but for sure they go to the portals and the instincts of people are to open up another window and go to the franchisor's website. That would seem to the franchisor as a direct connection between the consumer and the website via SEO. But it's not. The lead came from the franchise search portal.

In fact the biggest challenge of social media (twitter, facebook, et al) from a consumer's perspective is that it is promotional in nature, and the users of such media, smell it and call it out. It's pure promotion and users frequently run for the hills. This is a truth spoken of by a great leader in social media at socialmediaexaminer.com. Don't be fooled, social media is no panacea to playing difficult odds in lead generation. It is just one avenue for spending and getting message out.

While the gauntlet may be thrown down by the pure SEO types, the fight is far from over. The franchisor -- perhaps with very few exceptions -- is best served with a mix of media forms -- and using the franchise search portals while the jury is out.

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