A successful brand communicates its message through all possible channels. Tamara Smith demonstrates ‘how to market the hell out of your franchise.’
Franchising is like no other industry. When done correctly, your marketing can change lives throughout the world.
But when it comes to marketing franchising can at times feel stuck in an older era. Antiquated strategies and systems are commonplace, simply because they continue to make deals.
Franchise development marketing mixes tend to include the standard: brokers, portals, events, PR and digital advertising. This is the current ‘formula’ to make franchise sales, and it works – oftentimes at a very high cost.
When has sticking to the status quo helped anyone to stand above the crowd? To market the hell out of your franchise requires doing what many others aren’t.
Do you know your cost per lead/conversion, cost per acquisition/deal, your database size and which channels are performing best?
It may sound obvious. If you don’t know this information in detail, you are probably overspending and missing out on opportunities to improve the buyers’ journey, and your sales.
Many franchisors are unable to answer whom their ideal clients or target personas are. This stems from the limiting franchise categories of the past.
All of the answers are in your digital data. The digital era allows franchisors to dive much deeper. Franchisors often are not mining the wealth of data available at their fingertips, simply because they don’t know how, lack the time, or realize that it’s available.
The data is your map to a record sales year. Not only that, it’s key to marketing yourself in the right way, to your ideal franchisee.
Ideal Candidates and Target Markets
Understanding your data will give you great insights into those who are interested in your concept. Your franchisee training and support teams will also have a unique understanding about who’s most likely to succeed as a franchisee, based on their data and experience.
Closing the circle between franchise marketing, sales and support is essential. Cross-referencing who your franchise development team anticipated would be your next best franchisee, versus the actual results, and the top performers, will dictate your ideal candidates, and thus target markets.
What makes you special? Brokers, portals and industry publications/associations do not find you to be a unique and beautiful butterfly inherently. Only a special few receive that treatment. That’s because they’ve put in the work to refine their brand and build relationships to receive that recognition.
There are many franchise brands. You understand why yours is the best. How are you communicating that? Why your franchise, instead of the other brands listed under the same limiting categories with the same value propositions? What makes your brand unique and special?
Undertaking a strategic brand review with key stakeholders is a great exercise to determine your key talking points.
Discovery Days are not dead, if done correctly. Know your brand and you know what you need to do. (The jury is out on virtual Discovery Days. Candidates want to shake hands, live.)
If you know your numbers, you will likely see that some portals simply don’t perform. Be sure to review the numbers for between one to three years. There can be ebbs and flows with performance.
Great portals perform! There tends to be only a handful that will deliver results. Knowing your numbers allows you to hold them accountable. The good ones will make you deals. Before cutting off a portal that isn’t performing, address the results with them and give them a chance to improve.
It’s also wise to secret shop your brand. Some portals provide leads to direct competition. The only way to know is to do your research.
Brokers are expensive. They also make deals. If you can afford to work with brokers, do it. They will provide results, if they understand how to sell your concept, amongst all of the others.
Beyond what makes your concept unique, build a relationship. Keep them up to date with brand developments. Offer them performance incentives.
If you understand your ideal franchisees and differentiators, media exposure is a no-brainer. Pitch everyone your unique hook. Apply for every award that’s a fit. (The 2019 Global Franchise Awards entry deadline is 11 January 2019
This is where we tread some uncharted territory, at least in the franchising world. Most franchisors are a little weary of PPC (pay-per-click), whether it’s through Facebook, LinkedIn or AdWords. Your sales team has probably told you they hate these leads.
These leads must be treated differently. You must understand that you’ve inserted your franchise brand into their lives. That doesn’t make them any less valuable. It means they need additional nurturing and their own marketing funnel.
Unlike portals or brokers, they were not actively seeking a franchise business. Some education will be required to move them down the funnel. It’s key that you have the right nurturing in place, from your marketing to sales teams.
These leads are typically slower to move through your funnel. Do not allow that to be a cause for concern. They are taking the time to do their own research. Provide them access to as much information as you can. They will consume it and come to you when they are ready, as buyers.
Content is king. Although your digital leads are most likely to consume everything you create, all leads are doing their own independent research before buying.
They will consume as much information as you provide to self-educate before they choose to speak to your sales team. Ensure your content is insightful, engaging and polished.
Your content should take whatever form is right for your brand. This can include blog posts, white papers, webinars, podcasts, videos, Facebook live – the possibilities are endless. The data will dictate which channel is best for you.
Always be sure that your content includes a call to action and that you are capturing leads, and of course nurturing them with the information they seek.
Never forget your existing database. You’ve spent a lot of time and money to build that database. Leverage it in every way you can!
Never consider leads ‘dead’. Situations change. Stay in touch with relevant information. Depending on the rules of your country, your database can also be gold for lookalike PPC campaigns.
You’re surely already utilizing marketing automation, in some degree, with your lead nurturing funnels. As technology advances, there are evermore opportunities. To leverage everything that’s possible, you must have a keen awareness of all of the above.
AI will never replace the human element. It’s your responsibility to know your franchise system, data and target markets inside and out, in order to program any automation to achieve results. Inputting the right information allows AI and marketing automation to exponentially increase your results – it never sleeps and is always in a good mood.
Bonus: Your Team
Ensure your sales team is educated and inspired. Make certain your teams collaborate to understand the big picture. You can market the hell out of your franchise, but at the end of the day, the deal comes down to your sales team.
All leads perform differently, depending on the channel, and their strategy must reflect this. If your teams are collaborating, deals will follow.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tamara Smith is a Partner and Marketing Strategist at Just Franchise Marketing. http://justfranchisemarketing.com/