When trying to get a franchise brand in front of prospective buyers, the marketing mix is important. You don’t want to put all of your dollars into one singular advertisement or one PR campaign or one piece of marketing collateral. Creating a strategy that crosses various platforms and media with an alignment of messaging is the best way to reach a targeted audience. This balance is especially important when it comes to the content mix.
“Franchisees are going to do their homework online in various places, not just on a company blog. The blog may give some insight on your brand’s news, but the average process for buying a franchise is six months -- from point of interest to filling out an inquiry form,” said Nick Powills, CEO of No Limit Agency and 1851Franchise.com. “They’re going to spend more time during that time talking with people and doing online research than looking at your website, though integrating your website content with your social media channels offers an opportunity to enrich the footprint and create a consistency of message across all channels.”
While no longer the primary content platform, a blog is still a useful tool in franchise marketing. By blogging, brands can control the message and get some SEO benefit, but should be one piece of a bigger content strategy.
“The problem with blogging and directing candidates to the content on your website is that it’s clearly self-promotional copy, so they’re less likely to read it,” said Sean Fitzgerald, chief development strategist for No Limit Agency and 1851Franchise.com. “Relying on a blog as a content strategy simply isn’t enough anymore.”
As news outlets continue to close and teams continue to shrink, the traditional media as we know it will continue to change. With the rise of content marketing, a brand can control the story and craft it directly to the audience they are trying to reach.
“Nowadays, accessibility to content that matters is limited,” said Powills. “Trade publications often write fluff pieces that are driven by the advertisers that help pay the publishing costs. Therefore, creating a publication that would be able to distribute news quickly and specifically to the audiences that demand them created an opportunity to build a point of differentiation.”
That point of differentiation was 1851Franchise.com, an industry trade publication and content marketing platform, that was born from the idea that during due diligence, franchisees want one cohesive spot to read about a brand’s news. A brand gets a custom publication that aggregates media placements and brand content in one place. This third-party content lends credibility while allowing that brand to craft a story in a way that the traditional media might not.
“External content gets third-party validation, as well as the inbound link benefit to your franchise development site. If another website is recommending your site and linking to it, it’s a huge plus when it comes to search engine optimization,” said Fitzgerald.
Creating a strategy that includes blogging, external content, social media and PR enables brands to increase reach and target a very specific audience. The content should be aligned across channels under one cohesive campaign, and according to Fitzgerald, profiles of successful franchisees are most attractive to a candidate.
“Reading stories about people who have bought into the brand -- and made money doing it -- is what moves the needle for candidates,” he said.
Other content that attracts attention from prospective buyers includes stories corporate growth plans, new locations opening and same-store-sales growth.
“The idea is to develop content that a brand is growing very quickly -- and that people need to jump on now to not miss out on the opportunity,” said Fitzgerald. “If the perception is that your brand is growing, it’s going to resonate with prospective franchisees.”
As we all know, in franchising, there is no silver bullet, but creating solid content campaigns with touch points across various channels is the winning strategy to attract prospective franchise candidates.