All franchise marketing starts and ends with strategic messaging says Matthew Jonas
795,932. That’s the number of franchise establishments in the United States, representing more than 3,000 franchise brands. According to a reputable franchise source, 38 percent of the 200 largest U.S.-based franchise units are located outside of the United States, and over the last three years (2012 to 2015), these companies have collectively added four international units for every domestic unit opened.
It goes without saying: investors have a bevy of options when it comes to franchise opportunities. Which means reaching these investors with effective and strategic franchise marketing is paramount. There’s much to be said for the strategy and effectiveness of digital and public relations campaigns to reach the desired audience, but before even wading into the advertising and organic waters, a franchise brand’s ability to tell its story on a emotional and logical level comes first.
Developing a franchise brand’s story comes down to three specific tactics – messaging via strategic personas, differentiating your opportunity to stake a position, and considering how investors are shopping to capture the most relevant leads.
Understanding who your potential franchise buyer is seems like a no-brainer, but far too often franchise brands don’t take the necessary time to paint the picture of who the ideal franchise lead is before letting the brush strokes fly. This often leads to disjointed messaging targeted at no-one in particular, with unqualified and overall poor lead generation as the result.
Creating your Mona Lisa starts with a detailed assessment of the profile, needs, goals, pain points and behaviors of the potential franchise buyer. That information is easily attainable if you’re an established franchise brand; just take a look at your own franchisees. What differentiates top performers from those whose performance is marginal or worse? What was the specific messaging when you targeted them? What made them take that next step?
For emerging brands, those needs are identified through a combination of industry and competitive research, as well as an internal look at what drove you to start the business. Where does your passion derive from? What personality traits are right for your business? How have your existing locations been successful?
These questions, among others, work in conjunction to create a picture of the ideal franchisee and help franchise marketers develop messaging that influences potential franchise buyers on a logical and emotional level.
‘Me too’ isn’t a strategy
A burger is a burger. A gym is a gym. And, a spa is a spa. Right? Sure, as long as your franchise brand employs the “me too” strategy when it comes to crafting strategic message about the brand.
One thing is assured for franchise marketers: Upfront work to stake a position in the marketplace ensures that the messages about your brand/concept are controlled, rather than allowing competitors to speak on your behalf. All too often, companies assume that positioning is about their business or their product. Rather, think of positioning as the perception of the prospect, customer or investor. In other words, the way you describe and position your opportunity should be dictated by your potential franchise leads and prospects, not the features or expertise.
Think of the best ways to tout your ‘EST.’ Whether it be the biggEST, cheapEST, easiEST, quickEST or hottEST ‘something,’ making a huge push surrounding that differentiator is essential to standing out among an assuredly similar crowd. Here’s the problem – far too many franchise brands try to be the best for everyone, resulting in mediocre messaging across the board. Pick your route, and push the pedal down that road in a slow and controlled fashion.
Consider the shopping path
With more than 3,000 concepts to choose from, it should be pretty simple for a potential buyer to systematically analyze each on its growth potential, marketability and a whole host of other pros and cons, right? Likewise, quickly and easily narrowing the pool and making a decision based on the analysis should be a breeze, correct? The short answer, of course, is no.
Typically, most buyers will consider less than 20 opportunities, and likely focus their attention on a specific industry segment. So, it’s essential that you operate under the assumption that every buyer is looking for reasons to eliminate your concept from consideration, rather than searching for you specifically in the proverbial haystack. This means crafting a story that attracts serious candidates and not those just perusing. While that may sound harsh or counterintuitive, the goal should be to craft messaging that allows prospects to self-disqualify (like including investment details) but withholds enough information that requires the prospect to take action on something, like filling out a form on your franchise website. The likelihood that those folks will be top prospects is far higher in that they’ve chosen to further engage with your concept, the end goal for any global franchisor.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matthew Jonas is the president of TopFire Media, an award-winning integrated public relations and digital marketing agency specializing in franchise marketing and consumer branding. Together with the leaders of iFranchise Group, Jonas established TopFire Media to provide a strategic and synchronized method for digital marketing in the franchise industry. As a digital marketing strategist with more than a decade of in-depth experience in SEO and PPC, social media publishing, conversion based marketing, inbound marketing, sales management, and online lead generation, Jonas has built a career dedicated to delivering an integrated marketing approach that achieves client success and long-term relationships. www.topfiremedia.com