2024 Franchise Opportunity Lead Generation Best Practices
Of the 1 million to 2 million people a year FPG estimates who request information about various franchise opportunities, according to FRANdata and FPG estimates, only 13,000 to 20,000 will become franchise buyers. To grow your brand, you need to be skilled at intersecting these 13,000-20,000 buyers with your brand story when they are searching to invest in a business like yours. Too many digital agencies focus on the top of the funnel and chase the 1-million+ who are more than happy to fill out a form, but are never going to invest in a business.
These are primarily consumer agencies who have never recruited a franchisee before. They simply don’t know what it takes to reach and attract the 13,000 to 20,000 people who will open a business.
2024 will be no different. Franchisors will be competing with each other in an intensely crowded and noisy marketplace to get their brand story heard by as many buyers as possible.
The Marketing Agency and Franchisee Recruitment Department Disconnect
Skilled franchisee recruiters, who know what a buyer looks like, don’t often understand digital marketing and lead generation and don’t know what it takes to design, implement, and manage digital marketing campaigns.
Conversely, those who understand digital marketing don’t understand what it takes to get a deal done.
And the content creators, who franchisee recruiters rely on to articulate the franchisor’s value proposition as an investment opportunity online, also often have never sold a franchise before. And franchisee recruiters don’t often know how to create content.
Put another way, they don’t know what each other does and therefore can’t help each other do a better job.
That is where FPG comes in. We are the digital agency and content creators who also recruit franchisees. We understand both.
By implementing FPG’s strategy of aligning lead generation tactics and content with the way franchise buyers make their decisions, franchisors can achieve a breakthrough in your franchise sales efforts.
Key insights for improving franchise recruitment results
- Much 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.
- Buyers demand more information than everyone else.
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 targeting and optimizing for the wrong audience.Your goal should be to generate more qualified franchise applicants 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 correct lead generation strategy, website design, and lead nurturing content strategy, franchise candidates may self-quality. Therefore, franchisors may see lead flow decrease. But deal flow will increase, so who cares. 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.
- Present a complete and compelling value proposition as a franchise opportunity to the franchise buyer
- Your franchise buyer generation strategy should look something like this:
- Advertising and organic efforts 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. Get your budget right
FranConnect’s Franchise Sales Index shows that 80% of franchise buyers invest in the largest brands. Buyers mostly look for proof of concept and align with market leaders. Emerging Growth and Regional brands of 200 units need to make up their lack of referral and organic lead generation with an aggressive spend. Franchisors need to budget $10,000 to $20,000 in advertising spend for each franchisee they wish to recruit. Therefore, if a franchisor wishes to recruit 18 new franchisees, they should have a budget of at least $180,000 or the budget isn’t supporting the objective.
5. Get your franchise opportunity website right
Franchise buyers will read everything. Leads skim. Design a website that appeals to buyers. Since 80% of leads will engage through the smartphone, a website needs to be designed with a mobile-first website design approach. Website designers used to think, “Design for the desktop and make it mobile responsive.” Now it’s “Design for mobile and make it desktop responsive.” Unless the buyer hears a compelling investment opportunity brand story, they will assume your opportunity is not compelling, and they will move on. In short, the franchise opportunity brand story has to answer the question, “What makes your opportunity unique, valuable to the customer, defensible in the marketplace, profitable to the franchisee, scalable, and sustainable for the long haul?” A typical FPG-designed website will have a deep research funnel highlighting these and other questions. We incentivize candidates to fill out the form by offering a second round of privileged content only those candidates who fill out the form have access to.
6. Create Predictable Results
In addition to lead generation advertising and strong website content, franchisors need to supplement with best-in-class lead nurturing content. Think according the following formula. To maintain a robust pipeline of qualified potential franchise buyers, you need:
Quality advertising to generate quality traffic to your website,
A website which tells a compelling brand story, enticing candidates to request more information
Downloadable and accessible lead nurturing information which creates high candidate engagement and a desire to speak. Content earns conversation.
7. Get Your Content Strategy Right
A typical franchise opportunity lead nurturing 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.
Lead nurturing content will aslo include:
SMS text campaigns
Email drip campaigns
Content strategy and blogs aimed at handling objections prior to the candidate speaking to the franchisor’s representative
Informational video and other tutorials about what it takes to win
Content relating to franchisee and customer testimonials validating the opportunity
8. Get Your Lead Generation Strategy and Mindset Right
Marketing for franchise buyers is distinctly different than consumer marketing. The success strategies are not consistent.
Because digital marketing is so complex, franchisee recruiters don’t often understand it and defer to the consumer agencies or internal marketing resources. Because these agencies and resources don’t understand the nuances of franchise sales, they draw from their backgrounds about how to generate leads for products and services. They struggle to get into each other’s worlds and the resulting dynamic occurs:Marketing says, “Why can’t franchise sales close any of these leads?”Franchise Sales says, “Why can’t marketing generate any closable leads?”
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.
Tactics for reaching potential buyers and driving them to your site
Broadly speaking, there are two ways to drive traffic to your site:
Inbound search traffic
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 “ACME Franchise how much can I make,” “ACME revenues,” and similar phrases that use plain English. If you have a late start on SEO, it may not be worth the investment required to optimize. It might be cheaper and easier to buy the positions with paid search advertising.
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.
Quick rundown of paid platforms for franchise lead generation
FPG focuses on these areas, often in this order of priority: (from FPG’s Franchise Lead Generation Advertising Playbook)
- Google Search Engine Marketing and Display Network advertising
- Facebook/Instagram sponsored content
- Franchise Brokers
- LinkedIn InMail (for franchises that can target specific indutries, investor archetypes, and specific brands)
- Franchise Portalsand Portal E-blasts to subscribers of third-party media
- Targeted Email blasts (custom database)
Once these opportunties are exhausted, if franchisors still have budget, explore additional options such as trade shows and other paid advertising options.
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.
The time to invest in a comprehensive franchise recruitment content and lead generation strategy is now. Franchise ownership tends to increase during recessions, but in this full employment economy, franchisors are struggling to keep franchise candidates engaged and moving through the process. As franchise candidates struggle with the uncertainty of the economy, they will continue to investigate franchise options and digest content. As the market becomes more normalized and predictable in 2024, it will be important for franchisors who invested heavily in sourcing these candidates, remain top of mind when they finally become ready to make a move. As the job market becomes shakier, interest rates decline, stock market returns become more predictable (predictable good or bad), history shows franchise buyers will start making their move.
A best-in-class franchise buyer-generation program requires excellence in 3 areas:
- Excellent digital marketing (traffic generation)
- Excellent brand storytelling (converting traffic to leads)
- Excellent lead nurturing content (earning conversations with content)
Any breakdown in one of these 3 areas will create a breakdown in your franchise sales results.
Since 2002, FPG has helped over 140 client companies sign over 4,000 deals and build over $1 billion in enterprise value.
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