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The Candidate’s Journey is Complex; Insights Guide Success in Understanding Purchasing Behavior

Franchisors struggle with marketing because of the perception that X = Y.

By Nick Powills1851 Franchise Publisher
Updated 1:13PM 02/19/19

While walking the Vegas strip, I, along with a few friends, walked past the new Philly Pretzel Factory location. I applauded both the mascot and the girlfriend of the franchisee for handing out free pretzel coupons on the street in an effort to drive customer acquisition. What I loved about this, besides that they are our client, is that here were people working to drive business. It’s rare that I see this kind of hustle for a location.

I told the group I was with that I was impressed.

One of the guys asked if I thought this tactic worked.

I replied that if they are doing it, then there has to be a reason.

He asked me if I was sure – suggesting that this store, along with all of the night clubs, strip clubs and helicopter ride street pushers were doing it because they had no better way to get the right message in front of the right buyer.

I considered that a strong point. However, understanding the candidate’s journey (in this case, a pretzel customer) is important when it comes to finding the bigger picture.

The next day, the same group was sitting at breakfast at the Wynn. We were discussing how franchisors (specifically franchise sales people) struggle with marketing because they are so dead set on X = Y versus X + A + N + Z = Y. I used our stay at the Encore as the example.

When planning this Vegas trip, I emailed the group asking what hotel we should stay at. One of the guys suggested the Encore, saying the rooms are amazing, it isn’t overly crowded and we should be able to watch plenty of March Madness. Most of the group agreed. Thus, we booked hotels.

For me, I searched “Encore by Wynn” on Google, went to the website, paid for a room and a prompted upgrade. Then, I emailed the group my booking and two more booked rooms. When staying at the hotel, we enjoyed meals, drinks and gambling. For argument’s sake, let’s say the total, all-in cost for all of us was $15,000.

For the Wynn, what would they credit the booking to? The same thing as many in franchise sales – their website. They see me as a guest who booked off of Google. Google gets the credit. What’s the reality? One of our friends gets the credit. And, if you truly want to track me, the candidate and my journey, it’s even more than that.

I have been to Vegas close to 60 times (every other month for a conference over 10 years of running our company). I have never stayed at the Wynn, but I have often seen it, gambled at it and dined at it. Thus, I may be a longer lead. My wife has stayed there and raved about it. Friends have stayed there and raved about it. Thus, a collection of impressions satisfied the purchasing decision created my one of the guys in my group. But, Google gets the credit.

The guy who suggested the Wynn signed up for the Players Card. He gambled a lot. While playing (for almost the joke of it) casino war, the pit boss told him, in a rude way, that he couldn’t play three hands. He got frustrated and expressed his displeasure with the treatment, to which the pit boss barked back (poor customer service).

If the Wynn’s data read correctly, the pit boss would have been kinder, because that guy brought them three guests who spent $15,000 at the casino. But he didn’t get credit as an important part of the candidate’s journey, nor did Wynn read the data correctly to be nicer when treating a money-driving guest.

All the data is there. However, most companies struggle to understand it. They:

  1. Think X = Y.
  2. Don’t explore complete data to understand the purchasing process, partly because it is complex and partly because it is not necessary for them.

For franchisors, however, it should be necessary. The journey of the candidate is X + A + N + Z = Y, yet, many franchise sales leads discount the journey and try to give credit to Google. Selling a hotel room is much easier than convincing someone to invest their life’s savings into a business opportunity. The A and the N may have more value than the franchisor may think or have the energy to understand.

Another guy on the trip recently switched franchise brands. Shortly after the change, his former franchisor made a switch from our agency. Since that move (about six months ago), the brand has closed $0 in franchise fees and $0 in franchise sales. This guy is already putting record numbers up at his new brand. His first move was to bring us on. While he may not understand all of the moving parts behind X + A + N + Z = Y, he does have comfort and trust that we do. Thus, his way of doing business with us is to hand us the keys and tell us to make him look good. His old franchise company is scrambling to understand what happened. They are looking for X = Y.

Franchisors also struggle with X + A + N + Z = Y because they don’t understand it. It is a complex equation. What I typically say, though, is that when you are boarding an airplane, you don’t duck your head in and ask the pilot to explain what all of the buttons mean, and you don’t ask for the exact flight plan or process of getting from the gate to the runway. You get on the plane and take your seat without asking too many questions because you trust that you will arrive as close to as on time and as safely as possible. You know X + A + N + Z = Y, but are comfortable knowing only the X = Y part.

When marketing the franchise opportunity, franchisors need to trust the X = Y part, but find a marketing/franchise sales partner who understands that X + A + N + Z = Y.

For Philly Pretzel Factory, the club promoters and the helicopter rides, I believe the coupon and street work is a part of X + A + N + Z = Y. While it may not be the most profitable part of the equation, it does help. Seas of people will see the Philly Pretzel Factory name, and while they may not get a pretzel this time, they might get one in the future when they’re traveling in another part of the United States. Sure, that may not help that franchisee, but when another location does the same thing and someone sees it and goes to Vegas, they may buy a pretzel, too.

The Wynn should also thank my friend, my wife, my trips, Google, their web marketing/creative team and their booking team for driving that revenue.

The unicorn in franchise sales is the blend of a lot of little things working well together. The only time you should question the X + A + N + Z = Y is when your growth slows, especially when the franchise sales guy and marketing team leave and suddenly your sales halt.