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Franchising Pros Offer Their Best Marketing Tips to Drive Quality Leads

Industry experts offer ideas for franchisors to find business owners who are the right fit to grow their brand.

When prospective franchisee candidates decide that they are in the market to invest in a company, they are met with endless options. The numerous brands in each segment and the many shiny opportunities can make it hard for a company to be noticed in the sea of choices. 

How do brands ensure that they are marketing in the proper ways and to the right people who will be quality leads? There are many different routes to take, avenues to go down, and not necessarily one right answer. The key is to try out different tactics, realize what works for the company and then develop a robust and successful marketing campaign with those tools.

With all the information out there about different strategies and tips, it can be hard to know what will work best. Experts in franchising spoke with 1851 Franchise and offered their recommendations for what they have seen work best for companies’ marketing efforts.  

Make Sure To Nurture Leads

Receiving leads is only the beginning of the process, and the connection will likely not go very far if you do not nurture it. Corey Nicholson, Founding Partner and CEO at Cadence Franchising, has an extensive background in direct marketing and data management for both emerging franchises with single-digit units and global enterprise franchises. He led the conceptualization of a program called Intelligent Lead Nurturing, which helps brands find ways to communicate with potential franchisee candidates efficiently and effectively based on collected data.

“It helps to refine their sales process and properly communicate with the leads they're gathering. It’s important to identify how brands are doing things, how they are spending money and then figuring out what is working and what's not,” said Nicholson. “These tools really help us map out how to communicate with potential franchisees during their journey.”

Capture Data For Targeted Ads 

Gathering customer data is a great way to determine who brands should send out targeted ads to. Often, consumers of a company end up making some of the best franchise owners because they are already fans of the business.

“Your customers are often your best next franchisees because they know and love your brand. And they will be a faster close than somebody who hasn't experienced your brand. It’s pretty common with emerging franchises,” explained Nicholson.

He recommends capturing data with loyalty programs, contests, texting list sign-ups and anything else that allows franchises to remarket to them later through a targeted ad. Nicholson said Facebook, Instagram, Google Ads, email marketing and direct mail are great tools for putting franchising opportunities on consumers’ radars and stressed that the advertising efforts need to have a clear call-to-action that directs the interested party on what the next step they need to take is: fill out a form, call the company, do a discovery day, etc. 

Use A Franchise Consultant 

Franchise consultants not only take much of the leg work of qualifying leads from franchisors, but they also bring them more candidates that sign agreements than any other medium of lead generation. FranConnect’s 2020 Franchise Sales Index report found that that rate of franchise consultants had a lead-to-sales conversion rate of 10%, up from 4.2% in the prior year. 

“Getting a consultant saves a brand a lot of manpower on qualifying candidates. The consultant does the work and the exercises to ensure the person is a good fit and connects them once they know it’s a quality option,” said David Busker, founder of FranchiseVision. “All the brand has to do is meet with them, explain the details and decide if an agreement will be signed.” 

Nicholson agrees, saying it is beneficial for brands to “strategically select brokers that specialize in their territory and in their category of franchising in that area.”

Be Consistent With Communication 

Another of the biggest marketing tips, Busker and Nicholson agree, is to market to candidates continuously. Have a long-time advertising strategy, and don’t give up when the leads hit a dead end. Instead, adjust the tactics being used. It often takes years for someone interested in the opportunity to finally take action, due to life circumstances or other factors. Companies want to ensure their brand’s name is still at the forefront of their minds when someone finally decides to enter franchising.

“Stay in touch with that lead because you never know when something will change in their life. I heard many times of somebody getting an inheritance, and then they are ready to invest in buying a business,” said Nicholson.

“Being consistent in your message is almost as important as the quality of the message you’re putting out,” said Busker. “The right timing is personal to each person, so brands never want to lose track of a lead. They want to make sure they are always in their mind.”

Explain Challenges & Solutions 

Many franchisors spend much of their marketing trying to repeatedly communicate the selling points and benefits of investing in the company. While this information is important, it does not need to be constantly restated, as it's easily accessible. 

Brands who want to be taken seriously by qualified leads should be prepared to talk about the challenges, Busker said. They should have answers prepared to questions, concerns and objections that franchisee candidates may have. 

“You want to understand their fears about starting a business and tell them the realistic things they should expect. If they are willing to write a check, they likely already understand the rewards and numbers. They want to know what could go wrong and what the risks are and how the brand will protect them,” said Busker. “They'll make their own assessment about that, and usually, they're going to overcome that, and that's what will get them to sign or move forward.”