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Raintree CEO Brent Dowling on How Brands Can Upgrade Their Digital Sales Strategies in 2020

According to Dowling, carefully evaluating a franchise system’s highest-performing Franchise Owners can yield clues to further growth.

Franchise sales organization Raintree was founded in 2013 as a way to help brands find viable franchise candidates and scale their businesses. Raintree has come a long way since then. Today, the organization works with 16 brands, including Hounds Town USA and ScreenMobile, and has helped each of them meet and even surpass their franchise growth goals. 

Raintree CEO and co-founder Brent Dowling had plenty to say when asked how brands should execute their digital strategies in 2020. 

One of the biggest mistakes he sees brands make has to do with targeting: They cast too wide of a net and do not spend enough time making sure they are targeting the right people. For this reason, brands should have a clear idea of what their ideal Franchise Owner looks like and then target accordingly, Dowling said. 

“Brands have a tendency to go ahead and spend a bunch of money on digital marketing without the proper strategy in place,” Dowling says. “Before you spend a dollar on digital, we at Raintree believe you should take the time to understand who you are looking to award a franchise to.”

To that end, Dowling advises that brands should carefully evaluate the high-performing Franchise Owners within their systems.

“Use the commonalities among them to target prospective Franchise Owners,” he suggests. “These commonalities can include professional backgrounds, psychographics and personality traits. Oftentimes you’ll find commonalities in media consumption behavior, which also helps us at Raintree understand which of the many digital channels you should invest the most in.”

Dowling also emphasized the importance of text messaging, which can be an invaluable tool for targeting prospective Franchise Owners. 

“Text messaging has become a critical component of the lead conversion program in the last year,” Dowling said. “Raintree uses what we call ‘Smart Text Automation’ as a follow-up to every lead generated. In the last year alone, we’ve increased the number of outbound texts we send to prospective Franchise Owners from three to nine.” 

Once a brand captures a prospect’s attention, what should they say about their franchise opportunity in order to keep them moving through the funnel? 

It’s no secret that all prospective Franchise Owners want the answer to one particular question as soon as possible: How much money can I make? 

“As consumer buyer behavior continues to evolve to the point where we now expect all the pertinent information at our fingertips, the days of waiting to release Item 19 numbers until the FDD review are numbered,” explains Dowling.  “Accordingly, ensuring you have a proper positioning of the ROI — only as a legal representation of exactly what’s in your Item 19 — is really important to have as front and center as possible.” 

On the flip side, brands should also avoid revealing certain details in their digital marketing efforts. Dowling noted that brands should avoid listing the features and benefits of their franchise opportunity, or the size and growth of the industry in which they operate and focus on storytelling instead.

“At Raintree, we find that strong storytelling is a great way to position your franchise offering in digital marketing strategies,” says Dowling. “Prospective Franchise Owners these days appreciate understanding, for example, how franchise founders and Franchise Owners might have faced similar career challenges to what they themselves might be experiencing. That’s usually, after all, why they’re looking into franchising. Brands can take these compelling stories and testimonials and present their franchise opportunity as the solution.” 

Dowling recommends utilizing a multi-faceted digital approach to sharing these rich brand stories, extending beyond just relying on franchise portals. Brands that run concurrent social media campaigns on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, in addition to a public relations program that generates great content, have a greater chance of conversion. 

“You have the opportunity to retarget those initial portal leads on social media, with exciting content or stories in the media about the franchise,” Dowling says. “In this example, these three channels would work cohesively to drastically increase your conversion rates.”

By studying the highest-performing Franchise Owners in the system, engaging in brand storytelling and becoming more open to the idea of sharing numbers earlier in the discovery process, franchise brands can make the most of their digital sales strategies in 2020. 

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.