There’s a world of avenues for securing good lead generation, says Meredeth S. Jones. Just be sure to pick the ones that are right for you and your brand
With over 3,800 franchises in the U.S. alone, it’s no secret that even a good brand has to do some type of lead generation. For some, it’s as simple as brand awareness. For others, it takes more of a pro-active approach to attract candidates. Lead generation isn’t just for the consumer side, as franchisors can customize ways to attract potential candidates to sell their franchise.
What are the four elements you must have for an effective lead gen strategy?
1.Budget: It will be important that you have a budget that aligns with your one, three, and five- year goals. What does this look like annually? According to franchisors surveyed in 2018 at the Franchise Leadership & Development Conference, the average cost per sale (CPS) was $8,984 and the average cost per lead (CPL) was around $126. For a goal of 10 new franchises, your annual budget strategy would be around $89,840. This is direct spend only not including broker fees, sales staff or any other overhead associated with the sale.
2. Know your audience: Have you profiled your ideal candidate to understand who you will be seeking as a potential franchisee? Some elements to consider for profiling: income, industry experience, culture, personality fit, etc.
3. Understand the make-up of your strategy: Although there are several ways to generate leads, there is no “one size fits all” in lead generation. What makes an effective lead gen strategy? Taking a holistic approach, for example, hitting your candidates from all different angles.
If they are constantly seeing and/or hearing about your brand, isn’t this a sign that it’s “meant to be?” You have to remember in today’s franchising world, we are selling to entrepreneurs of varying ages.
Included in this are Baby Boomers to Gen Xers to Millennials. This means you have to be positioned where they are. Ask yourself this question: how and where do these generational candidates get their information?
Branding: A good brand with a great product or service will always produce the highest quality leads. Think of this method as your quality vs. quantity organic strategy.
Create a brand that is so unique, with such great quality that customers can’t help but want to be a part of the action for themselves. Branded materials including those with subtle franchise messaging (table tents, cups, and bags/boxes), street signs that indicate ‘coming soon’ or ‘now open’ will peak curiosity.
Franchise website: Be user-friendly. Tell a great story and show transparency when it comes to your offerings.
SEO (search engine optimization) – make it easy for candidates to find you on the internet based on key words used on your site.
PPC (pay per click) – bidding on key words associated with your business through Google, Bing, and others will drive traffic to your website.
Retargeting – following potential candidates with ads who have visited your franchise website but have not taken action.
Referrals from existing franchisees: This may be word of mouth or you can create a formal internal referral bonus program to incentive franchisees.
Digital advertising: This means targeted, interactive and measurable ads crafted to attract potential candidates based on a profile you have created.
Social media ads: Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Blogs
Social media content: viral videos, podcasts, webinars
Tradeshows: Expect to invest upwards of $10k to exhibit, whether regionally, nationally or internationally. A lot of brands use this as an opportunity just to ‘be seen,’ especially if their competition is there.
Print: You know the old phrase “print is dead?” Not in the franchise world. For most industry publications, they have a specific targeted print ad for mass mailing as well as a digital presence where the same content can be consumed online. As a bonus, most of these have a lead gen component already built in to their site.
Broker networks: Using these networks may not cost you anything up front, but when a broker brings a qualified candidate who signs, you will be paying the network over 50% or more of your franchise fee. This may not be a good source for emerging brands who are living off of their franchise fees. Brokers typically have a portfolio of over 100 different brands so your brand will not be the only one presented to their candidates.
Portals: Due to their high traffic, consider using these sites as more of an advertising opportunity vs. a lead generator. Many times, leads coming from these sites tend to be more of the quantity vs quality.
Public relations (PR): Not only can they generate great buzz for your brand across multiple platforms, but they also can support your lead gen strategy with placement, while collaborating internally with your staff.
4. Execution. Once in place, this isn’t something you can leave on auto pilot. You should be re-assessing your strategy every 30-60 days. Work with your vendors to change, tweak or add to your strategy. For example, you may find ads showing owners perform better than ads with product. Always take time to assess your metrics across all platform.
Where do franchisors get the most “bang for their buck” when choosing where to spend your lead gen dollars? Digital Advertising. Why? Because almost every entrepreneur, at some point in their due diligence, will go online to research business opportunities. This is why most franchisors spend the majority of their budget on this category.
Regardless of the approach you choose, my advice is to always focus on quality vs quantity as the goal. This is the key to building a sustainable franchise system.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Meredeth S. Jones, CFE is the Founder of two chicks consulting, a boutique consulting firm, providing franchise sales & development, lead generation strategies, systems/processes set-up and improvements to Franchisors. She uses her change agent expertise across multiple industries to help streamline operations, increase overall store count, and improve Franchisor profitability. Due to Meredeth’s diverse franchise experience, she is uniquely positioned to also provide consulting services to Entrepreneurs looking to own their own business. https://www.linkedin.com/in/meredethsjones/