It’s the hottest topic in franchising. Always. How do I get more leads? What are you doing that works?
In order to understand the candidate’s journey, you first have to understand the landscape of franchising.
We have covered this before. There are more franchisors than ever before. The economy is good, so while there are more people who are interested in franchising, the time from interest to purchase takes longer. Brands are spending more money than ever before on lead generation, yet, fewer are saying they are satisfied with their lead outcomes. More money spent means more competition fighting for the same leads you want – qualified and ready to buy.
Now that the basics are established, if I were running a franchise company, here’s what my viewpoints would be around leads:
- Franchisees are the best salespeople. Your sales team is not simply your sales team, it is whatever team is dedicated to improving franchisee satisfaction.
- Singular sources don’t work. A collective marketing approach has proven time and time again the best possibility of results.
- When you spend money on franchise marketing, you don’t get an immediate return. Is there a chance? Absolutely. Perhaps someone who is interested in buying a franchise learns about your brand in the middle of their process and inquires. But the majority of activities take six months to create actions. That means you are working for results in October now.
- The number one indicator of whether or not your entire company’s process is working is deals. Second is applications. Third is leads. Reverse measure.
- If you are not closing deals, look at a few things. First, what is franchisee satisfaction? Are franchisees motivated to grow? If the answer is no, plan on increasing your franchise budget significantly. Second, look at your website. If it is not converting the leads you want, it may be time to change. Third, look at the speed of reply and the depth of reply by your sales team. Are they building relationships?
- Brands that are growing have buzz, validation, great unit level economics and consistent delivery of stories. How does your brand match-up to those characteristics?
If you were to hand me your budget today, here’s what I would do to increase leads:
- Create content (written, video, PR) around validators. Place a heavy weight on telling their stories, including why they bought, why they continue to invest and why they believe in the company.
- Put this content in as many places as possible.
- Build relationships with leads. The second they inquire, connect with them on LinkedIn.
- Post content on LinkedIn to continue the conversation.
- Invest a little into PPC. Invest more in driving people to those pieces of content created.
- Create content around oppositions. Why would someone not buy your brand? Answer these reasons with longer, in-depth content. Use franchisees to help answer these.
- Market that content.
- Localize your spend. Focus on key growth markets that have existing units and growth. I would split the budget up to have 70 percent focus on this and 30 percent focused on others.
- Retargeting still works. Create the perception that your opportunity is everywhere.
- Remember that 84 percent of leads come from referrals. Make sure you are budgeting for activities that engage referrals, including dinners with existing franchisees and their friends as well as incentives for existing franchisees.
- Brokers are great. Good ones should be a part of the process. The other spend should go back toward incentivizing franchisees. I often ask what the referral fee is for a franchisee who recommends someone. The answer is typically $5,000. I ask if it works. They say no. I say, spend more. If you are willing to pay the broker $25,000 for a deal (someone who has never bought your brand or worked in the brand), then why not offer the same to people who love your brand?
Leads are tough. You are hunting for people who love your brand, want to invest their life’s savings into your brand, and when told the negatives about your brand, still feel your brand is right in their gut.
You have to have various touch points to win. You can’t look at tracking individual sources in a crowded world of content. Changing the way you measure your success will help you make the correct changes in your processes.
Hard reset. Try some things differently. But when you do, allow enough time for them to work.