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Franchise Lead Generation Best Practices

May 27, 2020

Generate Buyers, Not Just Leads

Millions of people research franchise opportunities each year. Very few of them become buyers. Of the 1 million to 2 million people a year who request information about a franchise, only 13,000 to 20,000 will become franchise buyers, according to FPG and FRANdata estimates. To grow an iconic brand, your franchise lead generation efforts need to be focused on serving these 13,000-20,000 buyers.

By aligning your recruitment strategy with the way franchise buyers make their decisions, you can achieve a breakthrough in your franchise sales efforts.

Key insights for improving franchise recruitment results 

1. Most of the buyer journey happens before you speak with a lead
Top research firm Forrester determined on the average purchase, 67% of purchasing decisions are made online. FPG research backs this up. Those who purchase franchises consume far more information early in the process than those who do not invest (3 hours versus 20 minutes) and visit the franchise opportunity website many more times (16 visits for buyers vs. 3.5 visits on average for leads). Franchise leads and franchise buyers are distinctly different groups.

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2. Buyers demand more information than everyone else on your site. 
Trying to increase deal flow by driving lead flow is flawed thinking. Buyers behave differently than anyone else on your sites, and if your lead generation process is focused entirely on driving higher numbers of leads, you are probably optimizing your site for the wrong audience.

Your goal should be to generate more franchise applications, and more buyers, not just more leads. Smart and effective franchisors employ a strategy focused on educating, engaging, converting, and nurturing candidates — with plenty of content along the way.

With the right advertising, brand storytelling, and lead nurturing strategy, recruiters can spend less time chasing leads and more time putting deals together with qualified applicants.

3. Share your story. Don’t let it just sit there.
Your franchise buyer generation strategy should look something like this:

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  • Advertising and organic efforts (SEO, social media posts), should drive likely buyers to your franchise opportunity website. Share compelling parts of your brand story that are appropriate for each marketing channel.
  • Your franchise opportunity website should use brand storytelling, video, infographics, testimonials, and other content to explain why your franchise opportunity is unique, profitable, valuable to the customer, valuable to the franchisees, and sustainable.
  • Offer privileged content valuable enough to encourage franchise buyers to leave contact information and compelling enough so that buyers are open to a conversation with your franchisee recruiter.
  • Keep your candidates informed. Out of the nearly 3 hours of content and 16-visit franchise buyer journey, FPG saw that half of the visits occurred — and half of the content was consumed — after the buyer left contact information. Buyers routinely revisited the site to educate themselves on the nuances of the brand and validate their investment decision.
  • For more information read FPG’s article Why Lead Generation and Lead Nurturing Are Now the Same Thing.

4. Understand how questions differ during the Franchise Buyer Journey

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The top-of-the-funnel self-directed research portion of the buyers’ journey is depicted in red. These are the types of questions that often lead people to franchise portals or broker sessions. If you have expertise with advertising platforms and a strong understanding of buyer personas, you can reach this audience to encourage them to visit your site.

Once people find the franchisor website, they are typically asking the questions highlighted in blue. They may still be comparison shopping, but they are narrowing down options. Make sure you have good answers for why you’re worthy of serious consideration.

Once those questions are answered to their satisfaction, buyers then engage the franchisee recruiters and ask the questions in green on the way toward making an investment decision.

5. Benchmarks for your franchise opportunity website

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When done right, your franchise information site improves the ROI of every other effort made by your recruiting team. If your website converts leads at 1% of traffic, more than likely your advertising cost to generate franchisees will increase to $15,000-$20,000 and you will recruit fewer franchisees, costing your chain $100,000 or more.

Examples of High Performing Websites

Tactics for reaching potential buyers and driving them to your site
Broadly speaking, there are two ways to drive traffic to your site:

Inbound marketing. These are tactics like SEO and PPC, which ensure that your brand is easy to find when people are looking for information about you. Your site should be optimized for terms that people use when searching for information about your business. For instance, phrases like “financial performance representation” are important for your FDD and legal documents, but nobody is searching for “ACME financial performance representation.” They’re searching for “ACME how much can I make,” “ACME revenues,” and similar phrases that use plain English.

Outbound marketing. These are tactics like email, social media, video/display advertising, and sponsored content ads that target specific high-value audiences. The targeting options are extensive and vary by platform. Outbound marketing allows you to build awareness of your franchise opportunity among key groups of potential buyers. It also offers a huge advantage for franchisors who have limited territorial availability: You can target your advertising so you reach more people in the areas where you have room to grow.

A quick rundown of platforms for franchise lead generation
The number of digital marketing tools available to assist your efforts continues to expand. Chiefmartech.com releases an annual comprehensive graphic showing the various tools available for different parts of your business, and the number of marketing tools is staggering.

We tend to focus on these areas, in roughy this order:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Email marketing to existing leads databases (including “dead” leads)
  • Google Search Engine Marketing and Display Network advertising
  • Facebook sponsored content
  • Email and text marketing automation
  • LinkedIn InMail
  • E-blasts to subscribers of third-party media
  • Streaming video (YouTube as well as advertising to Smart TVs)
  • Programmatic advertising

When FPG brings on a new client, we analyze your brand, determine the target buyer archetype, study the available search volume, factor in the franchisor’s growth objectives, set goals, and then determine which platforms should be used to reach franchise buyers and how much budget is needed to hit goals.

Although these digital ad platforms are powerful, they must be used as part of a specific franchise development content strategy and managed by people who are experienced with the nuances of the platforms. Otherwise, they can quickly drain your budget while producing very little ROI.

Puffery doesn’t cut it
Forget what you know about consumer marketing because those rules rarely apply here. Marketing for investors is a distinctly different advertising strategy, writer’s voice, and content strategy because the audience you are seeking to influence is making a much bigger decision. There’s a huge difference between selling a pizza and selling a pizza franchise. Your audience is weighing a decision that could impact their lives for decades. As such, they do a lot more research. They want facts, analysis, and insights.

A typical franchise opportunity content plan consists of:

  • Testimonial videos from franchisees
  • Case studies that highlight how existing franchisees have overcome challenges and achieved their goals
  • Q&As with franchisees who share similar backgrounds to the people you are hoping to attract to your brand
  • Public relations efforts to garner news coverage, so when people do a Google search, they see news items about your brand’s growth, momentum, initiatives, and franchisees
  • Multi-channel content distribution strategies (your website’s blog section, email lists, social media channels, internal newsletters, etc.) to broaden the reach of your message.
  • CEO and leadership videos or interviews discussing mission, vision, values, and strategy
  • Your content marketing plan should also be flexible. As your recruiters work with candidates, they’ll spot common issues driving potential franchisees’ decisions, and your content should address those motivations and concerns.
  • Your recruiter, working with your franchise marketing team, may also spot opportunities based on the backgrounds of candidates advancing through your pipeline. As new buyer personas emerge, marketing strategies and tactics should adjust.

In Summary
The time to invest in a comprehensive franchise recruitment strategy is now. Franchise ownership tends to increase during recessions. As the job market becomes shaky, confident and skilled workers become more likely to seek stability through business ownership. They bet on themselves, but they still appreciate the resources and know-how of a larger organization that can help guide them toward success.

Strong franchisors who demonstrate resilience during the pandemic and recession will be poised to quickly rebound because buyers are already searching for such businesses to invest in.

If your business and your people have shown resilience during this recession, you are in a great position to win. The key is to tell your story well and make sure the right people are hearing it. We can help. Since 2002, FPG has helped over 100 client companies sign over 4,000 deals and build over $1 billion in enterprise value.

Contact FPG via the form below.