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Lead Generation and Lead Awareness are Both Necessary and Valuable Tactics to Find Qualified Franchise Candidates

Mainland clients shared their brand’s approaches to both to lead generation and lead awareness - and how neither is more important than the other.

Finding quality franchise candidates can be quite the process for any kind of brand -- there is no silver bullet. Most brands focus only on lead generation, but overlook a key strategy: lead awareness. Brands each have different ways of approaching lead generation and lead awareness, but one thing is for sure: both strategies have their benefits, which is why brands should execute a blended approach.

“Lead generation and lead awareness are very similar but they’re also very different,” Saladworks Vice President of Licensing & Development Eric Lavinder said. “I think lead generation is more of a passive type of lead generation process where I think lead awareness is more an active process,” noting that brands need both to win.

Lead awareness, Lavinder said, involves being available at public events such as trade shows and conferences. Lead awareness, Lavinder believes, is a slower, less-defined process, but one that is still necessary. For this reason, he participates in local community events, speaking engagements and the like. He noted how the Saladworks chef did a video on Facebook Live about healthy eating in the winter. Such content can make prospective franchisees take notice.

“Lead awareness is really about just getting out there and doing multiple different channels and scenarios and trying to figure out a way of bringing awareness, knowledge and experience to your brand to bring people in who want to learn more,” Lavinder said.

The retail brand Batteries Plus Bulbs breaks lead generation and lead awareness down into the step that the candidate is in their discovery process.

Batteries Plus Bulbs Franchise Marketing Manager Olivia Chiu said that from an awareness standpoint, the brand puts out content to help prospective franchisees become familiar with the brand and envision themselves as franchise owners.

Batteries Plus Bulbs sees lead generation as “the tactics we are putting out there to actually go out and get them and make them aware of our opportunity,” Chiu said.

Swim school franchise Big Blue Swim School takes a multi-dimensional approach to lead generation and lead awareness, according to Chief Development Officer Scott Thompson.

“We use sponsored content to build awareness and brand validation towards our prospective franchisees and candidates, we use defensive and vertical PPC campaigns to drive leads into the funnel, and we use retargeting campaigns to continue to build awareness,” the Big Blue Swim School executive said. “We still do a little print [advertising] in select Entrepreneur magazine editions to build awareness and credibility. We have social campaigns on Facebook and Linkedin to also build awareness. Our website and targeted city landing pages help with lead generation and conversions. We also do PR to build awareness in the markets we want to grow in,” adding that the brand participates in trade shows and hosts a virtual Discovery Center that provides additional content about the brand.

While their specific tactics may differ, Lavinder, Chiu and Thompson all agree that lead generation and lead awareness are both needed. Lavinder noted that a brand can do one or the other, but he believes it will yield less results.

“It is more expensive to go both ways because you’re focusing on two different things versus the other ten strategies to grow franchise sales, but they’re both a necessity at the same time because you’re not going to cross the same person in the same way,” he said. “You’re getting different people through different channels.”

Lead generation and lead awareness are both needed because the franchise sales process involves “a lot of self-exploration,” Chiu said. Content put out by brands needs to have a strategy behind it, and brands have to stay relevant to what people are searching for, she said.

Thompson said that both lead generation and lead awareness are needed because of the evolution of franchise sales in a digital world.

“Prospective franchisees are more knowledgeable and will do a ton more due diligence before engaging with the brand,” Thompson said. “If your brand does not have relevant content online or ads online your prospect will disengage and find what they think is a better opportunity without you ever knowing.”

Thompson noted that prospective franchisees are usually not ready to speak with a brand representative when they initially fill out an online form, and if there is limited content about one’s brand online, that brand risks losing those candidates.

“Getting leads in the funnel is great but having strong on- and offline lead nurture campaigns and content to support these campaigns is critical for a brand to convert the leads into actual franchisees,” Thompson said.