When I made the decision to start Franchise Chatter not too long ago, I didn’t realize how much I needed to learn about the technical aspects of blogging and Internet marketing. It’s been a lot of fun creating and growing a blog from scratch, but it’s also been very time consuming. There is simply too much to learn all at once.
I can only imagine how intimidating it must be for a small business owner to implement an effective Internet strategy and run his or her business at the same time. An experienced Internet marketing consultant can make the process of establishing a profitable Internet presence so much easier for an entrepreneur. That’s why I think there is a huge market for Internet consulting and it can be a very profitable business — not to mention a lot of fun for someone who is interested in Internet marketing.
The key question is whether it makes more sense to join an Internet marketing franchise or simply build an independent Internet consulting business from the ground up. The biggest player in this franchise category is WSI (short for “We Simplify the Internet”). In this blog post, I want to list a few advantages of becoming a WSI Internet marketing consultant to help prospective franchisees decide whether this option is right for them.
What is WSI?
WSI is a franchise company that provides Internet marketing solutions to small and medium sized businesses worldwide through their WSI Internet marketing consultants (franchisees). WSI is a private company with headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and has been in business since the mid-1990’s. It was ranked #262 in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 in 2011, and #80 in the magazine’s list of Top 100 Homebased Franchises in the same year.
The Advantages of Becoming a WSI Internet Marketing Consultant
1. WSI shortens the learning curve considerably by teaching franchisees a proven system for providing Internet marketing solutions to clients
WSI teaches a simple 3-step system for providing Internet marketing solutions to clients. They call this system the ABC’s of Digital Marketing, which stands for: Affordable website design solutions, Build targeted website traffic, and Convert more customers. WSI trains its franchisees on all 7 key components of an Internet marketing system: namely, conversion architecture, search engine optimization, pay per click services, email marketing, web analytics, social media, and mobile marketing.
Granted, there are a lot of books available on each of these topics. But it will take a lot more time to learn the meat of these key concepts on one’s own.
In addition, franchisees of WSI have access to special tools like WSI WebScan and Internet Business Analysis which can help them win more business. These tools show prospective customers how WSI can help them boost their bottom line through cost-effective Internet marketing initiatives.
2. WSI franchisees can provide a more extensive menu of Internet solutions at a lower cost through its many pre-approved e-Marketplace service providers
WSI franchisees enjoy preferred access and pre-negotiated rates to a huge selection of products and services from approved vendors at a much lower cost, as a result of favorable economies of scale.
The WSI e-Marketplace gives franchisees access to service providers that handle all the details of website development, as well as suppliers of other value-added services (such as hosting and Internet marketing) at a discounted rate. The entire supply chain has been set up by WSI so that franchisees can focus on getting more business from new and existing clients.
The e-Marketplace connects all Web development production facilities, vendors, suppliers, and franchisees in a proprietary project management system, which allows for seamless communication and collaboration among all members of the team.
After extensive research, WSI has identified key features that most businesses need for an effective website. With this in mind, they created the WSI Modular Development Technology, which is essentially a library of the most frequently needed components of a business website that can be customized to suit the particular needs of the business and deployed quickly and easily as needed.
3. WSI franchisees have access to a proprietary enterprise platform that makes it possible to manage all aspects of their business anywhere with an Internet connection
WSI has invested millions of dollars in a proprietary Oracle enterprise system, which they call the Global Networking System, allowing franchisees to manage their entire business on the Web. A few of the key features of the system are:
- Sales dashboard for managing leads
- Intranet with online resources like checklists, templates, essential presentations, and a digital marketing reference library
- Lead and marketing tools, including WebScan, case studies, and market research
- Educational resources
- Access to the community of WSI franchisees in over 80 countries
4. WSI franchisees undergo extensive training in all aspects of Internet marketing and consulting
The first phase of training consists of a comprehensive e-Learning program completed in a period of 4 weeks. The program combines online training through WSI’s proprietary software with traditional workbook exercises, hands-on assignments, and role-playing exercises.
The second phase of training is an intensive 1 week hands-on course in WSI’s corporate headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. At the end of the week, franchisees who successfully complete the program earn their Internet Marketing certification.
All franchisees are assigned a post-training business coach to advise them on best practices through the critical first 90 days of business.
5. WSI franchisees enjoy ongoing business and technical support 24/7/365
WSI franchisees enjoy telephone and email support from over 100 corporate employees at the headquarters in Ontario. They enjoy 2 levels of support: (1) for technical and operational day-to-day questions and (2) for business development and advice.
Support includes complete documentation, professional marketing materials, forms, templates, and newsletters. In addition, franchisees can take part in daily webinars called “Coffee Breaks,” WSI Excellence and Innovation Conferences, and WSI Mentoring Programs.
6. WSI franchisees benefit from the company’s extensive research on consumer behavior
WSI conducts frequent market research on consumer behavior and its employees attend industry trade shows and symposiums to better understand how people use the Internet, what drives their purchasing decisions, and how to effectively close the sale online. The results of this research form the basis of the proprietary systems that WSI rolls out to its franchisees and is a competitive advantage for WSI franchisees over independent Internet marketing consultants.
The Cost of a WSI Internet Franchise:
Of course, all of these advantages come at a price — in this case, a relatively steep price. The franchise fee ranges from $49,700 to $147,000, depending on the region and the size of the territory. The ongoing royalty fee is 10% of gross sales. Both of these fees are on the high end of all franchise opportunities, and is certainly way more expensive than starting an independent Internet marketing consulting business from scratch.
If someone already has a lot of Internet marketing know-how or is willing to put in the hours need to research this fast-changing industry, the independent option seems to make more sense from a cost perspective. But if someone needs a lot of additional training and support in order to make his or her Internet consulting business work, a WSI franchise is definitely a franchise worth looking into.