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Franchise Lead Development: How Digital Marketing Changes the Game

By July 31, 2018 February 15th, 2019 Brand Development

As a franchisor, lead generation is at the top of your list. Franchise lead development is impossible without digital marketing. We’ve already helped top franchisers develop their brand and their base of owners farther than they thought possible.

Franchise Lead Development

Franchise Lead Development

This guide shows you why a shift to digital is necessary to effectively market your franchise. We’ll face franchise development challenges head-on, and share practical ways you can start doing better by your bottom line today.

Let’s get started.

Part One: Unique Challenges

Marketing in the 21st century can be fun, but it’s not without its challenges. The franchising industry is no exception.

Perhaps you’re affected by these roadblocks:

Too Many Franchisors, Not Enough Franchisees

According to FRANdata, there are a record number of franchising companies in the United States.

Well over 3000 businesses are marketing their franchise model as we speak (with hundreds more adopting their concept every year). But only 20,000 candidates actually invest (according to their highest estimate).

Twenty-thousand sounds like a lot. But when every candidate has thousands of options to choose from, it gets more difficult for you to be their first choice.

Low Unemployment, Low Risk

You hear it all the time: investment involves risk. And when unemployment is low (like it is now), people want to maintain that stability.

Staying in the corporate world seems safer than making the move to be one’s, own boss. So, fewer people in an already small market are now even less motivated to take that risk and invest in your franchise.

You’re Up Against Wall Street

Strong job market means a strong stock market. Because of that, many consider building their stock portfolio a safer bet than a franchise investment.

The future of franchise marketing seems bleak if you stick with business as usual. But an investment in digital marketing (and its powerful data) keeps you ahead of the game.

Part Two: A New Mindset

As digital marketers, we’re pro-data. And we’ve found the secret to smarter, more effective lead-building:

Relationship-Building (And Nurturing Those Relationships)

No need to be pie-in-the-sky or touchy-feely. If your strategy is built on a foundation of respecting candidates’ time and intelligence (rather than pumping out as many sales pitches as possible), you’re on the right track.

Your candidates know that franchise ownership is a significant investment of time and resources. And most of them have experience as negotiators in the corporate world.

In short:

  • Your leads are doing their homework.
  • They know what they want from a company (values, culture, support, etc.).
  • They have measurable income and lifestyle goals.

Your strategy must reflect that.

Part Three: Practical Steps to Get More Leads

Your candidates’ research is personalized to their needs and interests. Savvy digital marketing gives you a website and content to match.

Here’s how to do it.

Know Your Candidate

for franchise lead development, candidates need specifics. And you don’t want to waste time or money on unqualified leads. Tailoring your strategy to the candidates you want representing your brand is a great first step. As a guide, use descriptors of your top-performing owners, including their:

  • Demographics
  • Initial investment
  • Previous experience
  • Reasons for joining your franchise
  • Average profit (per unit) per year
  • What they need from a franchisor
  • What kind of messaging they respond to
  • Their age, income, previous experience
  • Which online platforms they use most

Your next owner is a person. Market your franchise to people, not lists. Creating a buyer persona (which puts key customer descriptors into a narrative description of a person) is a great \start.

Email & Social: Meet Halfway

Once you know who your ideal franchisee is, you know where they spend the most time online, so you can maintain a strong presence there. knowing your ideal franchisee is essential for your franchise lead development.

We suggest starting your social strategy with Facebook (since it has the most active monthly users of any platform). But don’t take our advice for granted— make sure you do market research to back up your decisions.

Social isn’t enough. Email marketing is a must to build your marketing on a strong foundation. The email addresses on your lists are yours, and no social media algorithm change can take it away.

You can write, schedule, and divvy up your emails according to where a candidate is in the Discovery process.

Website: Recruit 24/7/365

Creating a recruitment website (separate from the one customers use to learn about your brand and products) is how potential candidates meet you (and how you keep recruiting around the clock), ultimately imporving your franchise lead development. Your site should:

  • Answer questions candidates have throughout their Discovery process
  • Showcase wins from the top franchises in your brand
  • Explain what sets your franchise apart
  • Paint a picture of your ideal franchise owner
  • Make it easy and appealing for them to take action (call, click, schedule a meeting, etc.)
  • Be accessible on mobile as well as desktop/tablet

According to recommendations and findings from Franchise Performance Group (FPG):

  • 2.5% conversion rate (or better) for both desktop and mobile sites
  • 8-10% of all conversions should result in applications
  • 1-2% of these applicants should become franchisees
  • Of the franchises studied, half of the new candidates found the site via mobile search. (that number could be as high as 80% in a few years).
  • Online research leads the way. It is how people spend the majority of their time when researching a major purchase/investment decision, and

You get what you pay for. Because of the near-infinite number of sites on the internet, and the exponential growth of franchising across industries, you need to pay social ads and paid search (like AdWords and Bing Ads) for optimal results.

Part Four: Getting Lead Generation Write

You could have great SEO, an unbeatable business model, and products no one can live without, but if you’re not focusing time and resources on crafting great content— you’re losing leads.

Content will always be king for that reason. You’re not pitching your franchise door-to-door. And trade shows only come along a few times a year. But you can market your franchise 24/7/365 with great online content.

Franchise Performance Group (FPG) reports that it takes anywhere from 60 to 120 days for a candidate to make an informed decision. Industry leaders have content that’s both high-quality and high-volume.

With great writing, candidates don’t have to wonder if your franchise:

  • Is unique in its field, market, or industry
  • Differs (positively) from your competitors
  • Generates a solid profit margin
  • Works with a proven, successful model
  • Has plenty of satisfied customers
  • Builds rapport with the community
  • Can be scaled with owners’ goals
  • Has a solid legacy and reputation
  • Survives economic downturn and turmoil
  • Offers a good return on investment (ROI)
  • Keeps owners motivated, inspired, and making money

Your content speaks for itself.

Content Goal: Franchise Lead Generation

Don’t Do
Oversell Use actual business data and cite sources whenever possible.
Use only numbers-based language Appeal to emotions/experience of candidates.
Overgeneralize Be specific as to what your ideal candidates are looking for
Fluff up content or overstuff keywords Be concise, clear and accurate. Use natural language that your candidates use.
Overwhelm people with too much text Write for mobile users. Use engaging media.
Use just one type of content Create diverse content types
Set it and forget it Update your content regularly/consistently

Diverse content doesn’t stop at your franchise recruitment site. A varied content strategy includes blogs, white papers, fact sheets, press releases, social media posts, email series, videos (with written scripts), webinars, and courses/info sessions— and whatever else your marketing team dreams up.

A candidate who lands on your recruitment site is already interested in your franchise. The longer they stay on your site, the more content they read. The more content they read, the more their interest builds— and the more ready they are to invest.

Part Five: Keeping Candidates Engaged

You have a set of strategies proven to generate interest in your franchise. That’s something to be proud of and can benefit your franchise lead development. 

But your work isn’t done. You have to keep those leads once they land on your site, like you on social, or take your flyer at a trade show.

Keeping candidates engaged, and nurturing strong relationships with them, is critical to hitting your franchise development goals.

Here’s what we do to help franchise lead development and keep leads happy.

Keep Sending Mail

Your content strategy for both direct mail and email marketing should have farther-reaching goals than “get people to fill out an information form” or “get people to make a phone call”.

Your email and direct mail campaigns should be:

  • Ongoing: Create content (and goals) for people at every stage of the franchise candidacy and ownership journey.
  • Customized: Not everyone on your list should get the same email or direct mail. The content they get should be specific about where they are on the buyer journey. In fact, the more personalized, the better.

Every click on your emails, every long session on a webpage, every resource download is a new insight into potential candidates you can use to further customize your content.

  • Appealing: the Visual appeal is key when it comes to engaging candidates with your content:
    • Does your content include images and video?
    • Does the look-and-feel align with the rest of your branding?
    • Is it easy to read and error-free?
    • Is it clear what next steps the candidate should take?

Answering questions like these keep you from making costly mistakes, and your web and direct mail design keep the candidate in mind.

Stay Active on Social

A nurturing social strategy includes highly interactive, consistent content that gets more clicks and more conversions. For franchise lead development, we’ve seen success with:

  • LinkedIn: Your ideal candidates are corporate professionals with high business acumen. LinkedIn is where many professionals go to network, learn, and increase their awareness.
  • Facebook Groups: While Pages are good for promoting your content and your business, Groups provide a unique way for users to opt into specialized support and content.

Bring People Together

When candidates feel like they can identify with your franchise (and other candidates and owners) they’re more likely to consider an investment.

Creating community through your marketing efforts is a great way to accomplish that. Webinars, live streams, meet-ups, and live events boost your digital and in-person marketing efforts by adding a personal touch to your franchise development efforts.

Part Five: Is Your Current Strategy Working?

How do you get the essentials done—and adapt to constant changes—while still running your business?

How do you keep from wasting time and resources— and how do you know it works? Generating and nurturing franchise leads is a full-time job. And a marketing agency can help you get it done.

If you need:

  • Content (Email, Social Media, Blogging, and More)
  • Digital Advertising (AdWords, Social Media Advertising
  • Local, On-page, and Off-Page SEO
  • Strategy Development
  • Lead Capture/Nurture Campaigns
  • Guidance and Support
  • Data Collection, Interpretation & Analysis
  • Integration of Marketing Platforms and Channels

You can do it without overwhelm (and within your budget). We can set up entire systems catered to your strengths.

Our expert analysts only do what works best for your goals and your bottom line. We partner with thriving franchisors committed to industry leaders who are seeing great returns on their investment. ROI can help improve your franchise lead development. 

Will you be next?

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