In late 2013 at the Online News Association ‘13 digital journalism conference, executives from Google introduced a new suite of tools.
Google Media Tools is an aggregator site that provides businesses and journalists a better and more convenient way to take advantage of a collection of scattered collection of related Google apps useful for raising awareness online through storytelling.
This suite brings together a mix of free and paid services that currently includes 27 tools, supporting everything from live online video streaming via ‘Hangouts on Air’, to location-based data visualizations through the Google Maps API. This site, complete with helpful descriptions and outbound links, has already grabbed a fair amount of attention from news organizations, large corporate marketing departments and professional marketing associations across the world.
But, franchisees use Google Media Tools as a way of supporting their operations?
My opinion is a resounding yes.
To get you started on some ideas on ways you might take advantage of these great apps from Google, here are three quick and ideas…
Marketing: Franchisees can use Google Media tools to get a pulse on local markets
The very first tab in Google Media Tools directs you to a section of the site that provides quick and easy link access to all of Google’s search tools.
From this section, you can easily navigate to tools like Advanced Search, Google Trends, and other helpful research tools. A new feature that should pique the curiosity of existing and potential franchisees lies in Google Consumer Surveys.
This is an affordable option for quickly gathering market research and insights in the form of consumer surveys can be used to gather information on local area markets, consumer brand perceptions and attitudes through an easy to use online dashboard. Savvy franchise operations might consider using Google Media Tools to investigate expansion locations or even test new products, menu items and service offerings.
While it’s not free, the creative pricing model does make it a potential solution for newer franchisees that typically would not be able to allocate the budget for more traditional primary consumer research.
Operations: Franchisees can conduct local store meetings using free video conferencing with Google Hangouts
Web meetings can be a valuable tool for franchisees who operate multiple locations in their system, oftentimes spread across a wide geographic region. Constantly hopping on planes for face-to-face meetings can get expensive. Driving to be on location is cheaper but comes with an opportunity cost due to the time investment. It’s never a good idea to try and get work done while your driving down the freeway.
Up until a few years ago, having the ability to conduct good video conferencing meant signing up for plans with GoTo Meeting, WebEx or the other dozens of provides in the space.
But that all changed back in 2012 when Google released Google Hangouts. While this service isn’t necessarily new, it has been constantly revised and refreshed over the past few years making it a free and easy solution to having face to face conversations over the web.
Google Hangouts offer franchisees a variety of onboard tools like screen sharing, whiteboards, chat, as well as automated video switching that is triggered by who in the hangout is actually talking — all of this making for a great and high-efficient meeting experience. You can also conduct hangouts on the move through apps provided on Android and iPhone mobile devices.
Give Hangouts a try and let me know what you think.
Real Estate Development: Franchisees can use Google Maps to Explore Real Estate Opportunities
One of the most impressive developments highlighted in the Google Media Tools suite lies in Google Maps Engine.
Available in lite and pro versions, this engine provides franchisees with the opportunity to create detailed maps with a variety of layers that can be embedded on websites, blogs, and other online properties. It’s highly flexible, and maps can be customized to serve all different types of needs.
For franchisees who become comfortable with the platform, the suite also includes easy access to Google Earth, an extensive database of satellite and terrain imagery, 3D imagery, and models. Google includes links to a Help Center that can give you all the details you need to make this tool a part of your real estate development strategy.
Your franchise should get familiar with Google Media tools
All said and done, Google Media Tools is an aggregate gateway to tools that can help support your franchise operations in a variety of ways. You can expect more developments and additions to be rolled out to this suite this year.
Have you already started taking advantage of Google Media Tools in your system? What have you been able to accomplish?