Spreading the News: 6 Sales and Marketing Opportunities

If you're tired of selling for someone else, break out on your own with these innovative franchise concepts.

By Sara Wilson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Advertisements just aren't what they used to be. Billboards have become a part of the scenery, TV commercials can be passed over with the touch of a fast-forward button, and advertisements are no longer confined to the pages of a black-and-white newspaper. There's a new generation of marketing companies using creative, innovative ways to get their messages to consumers. These companies are also using franchising to give people a chance to unleash both their creativity and their entrepreneurial spirits.

We searched our Franchise Zone to bring you seven concepts from our advertising listings that cater to professionals just like you. Please note that Entrepreneur.com doesn't endorse any specific franchises. Rather, we present this information as an introduction to the possibilities that franchises can offer.

Discovery Map
Visitors to a new city will always need accommodation, food, shops and a map to lead the way. So what better way to combine both the advertising needs of local businesses with the navigating needs of tourists than by creating hand-illustrated maps with enough space on the back to list 200 advertisers? That's what Discovery Map, an Anacortes, Washington-based franchise, figured when it first mapped out the business concept in 1987. In 2002, the franchise gave the maps a modern look and feel by creating an interactive web version, allowing visitors to virtually explore a city before ever setting foot in it--and letting advertisers see just how many eyeballs scan their listings.

Our Town America
There's nothing like a friendly face when you're new in town, and Our Town America provides that via a pack of no-strings-attached gift certificates for local businesses. Franchisees are in charge of getting the sales from local businesses, and corporate headquarters takes care of the rest: graphics, production, insertion, mailing, list management and even invoice production. "We attempt to take as much of the non-sales/service responsibility away from our franchisees in order that they may do what makes them most productive and successful: sell," says Michael Plummer, president and founder of the Pinellas Park, Florida-based franchise. Our Town America is gearing up to add 30 to 50 more franchises this year, and is looking for "true salespeople." "Discipline, organization, excellent presentation, sales,servicing, and closing skills are things that we look for in a prospective franchisee," says Plummer.

Homes 4Sale by Owner Network
The internet has changed the way consumers interact with the world. People purchase goods and services and gather information in cyberspace. And now, thanks to Homes 4Sale by Owner Network, people can even buy and sell houses online--without the costly services of a middleman. The Toledo, Ohio-based franchise features a high-tech website on which sellers can post a property listing with pictures, monitor their visitor counters and even create custom fliers with the click of a button. Founded in 2002, the company initially served only northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, but as word spread, franchising became the only way to keep up with demand and maintain a high level of customer service. "It's the wave of the future," says founder and CEO Michelle Hudson, who started franchising the concept in 2004 and plans to franchise nationwide this year. "Homes 4Sale by Owner Network has brought a new service to meet the needs of a new market."

AllOver Media
With 25 franchisees located in 30 U.S. markets, AllOver Media, which started franchising in 2002, already has a far-reaching presence. And similar to Gotcha Mobile Media, its advertising concepts are designed to steal the attention of today's mobile consumers. Based in Maple Grove, Minnesota, the franchise specializes in four advertising methods: indoor print advertising, including advertisements displayed in public restrooms; gas pump advertising; digital indoor advertising; and taxicab advertising. "People are more on the go than they've ever been," explains Jay Mitchell, director of franchise development. "Our product really catches them as they move throughout their day."

Shock PR International
PR seems like the type of business that couldn't be franchised, but Richard and Christine Shock have developed a proprietary three-tier system that they say benefits both franchisees and their clients. "It's a differentiator in the market, and enables franchisees to address the specific needs of any size client, from entrepreneurial startups to established companies," says Richard, president of the Hopkinton, Massachusetts-based company. Shock PR launched their franchise arm in 2005 and are currently working with their first potential franchisees. Shock says ideal candidates will have some PR experience and exposure, either by working in the PR field or related fields like marketing and the media.

Profit-Tell International
Profit-Tell has got its ear to the ground: The company assists their business clients in audio marketing efforts, be it on-hold promotions, informational CDs, website narration tours or overhead announcements. Franchisees serve as marketing consultants who provide advertising and marketing solutions, while the headquarters provides all after-sale support, such as the creation of customized audio programs. Tony Corniel, director of franchise development for the Hinsdale, Illinois, system, says they're looking for outgoing, goal-driven franchisees who enjoy the sales process and like to get out and meet people.

Ready, Set, Research
Use this list as a starting point in your search for a franchise; then, continue searching in the advertising section in our Franchise Zone to learn about even more franchises.

When one catches your eye, begin your research. Due diligence includes thoroughly reading a company's literature and its Uniform Franchise Offering Circular, calling and visiting the existing franchisees, and consulting with an attorney and an accountant. Use our thorough how-to to guide you on your journey.

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