Franchise organizations are often guilty of building lead generation programs without defining what successfully motivates their buyers to respond. Some dump big bucks
hiring ad agencies to develop gorgeous-looking ads and glitzy marketing campaigns, only to discover they missed the mark entirely. What’s the best way to drive leads? Know what drives your buyers! Find out how to court your prospects. The more attractively and convincingly you market your concept, the greater the opportunity to attract the right people to your franchise family.
Once you know who your market of prospects is, how can you influence them to take a look at your franchise concept? Selling Power magazine published a landmark survey of 445 top sales executives representing 31 different industries. The research was conducted by sales experts and scholars from leading business schools. After polling participants on the marketing challenges of their companies, the study revealed an astounding fact: “Only 56 percent of the sales organizations say their marketing collateral is designed the way their customers buy.”
People buy opportunities, not businesses
Young franchisors frequently stumble when launching their franchise marketing programs. They over-promote their products and forget to feature their business opportunity. Show the benefits of owning your franchise! Market what your buyers are seeking as owners—not as retail customers. It’s more than showcasing big, juicy hamburgers, beautiful display racks, colorful service trucks, or shiny, high-tech equipment. Prospects aren’t interested in eating your food right now, or purchasing your custom service truck. “Tell me what your business can do for me!” Focus on what they want, seek, and can aspire to achieve through your program!
What are business buyers looking for?
So what is it entrepreneurs are seeking in owning a business? What is it that is important to them and their families? Why are they unhappy with their current situation, and what attracts them to your franchise offering? Decades of experience at thousands of franchise organizations has uncovered the basic needs and desires shared by business seekers. Here are some of the common motivators for owning a business:
• Being my own boss
• Controlling my own future and security
• Tired of company politics
• Flexible work schedule
• Family participation in the business
• More time at home with my family
• Building equity in my own business
• Opportunity for new challenge and growth
• Greater financial opportunities and rewards
• No more traveling or long commuting
• Being part of my local community
• Having fun operating my business
• Free weekends, daytime business hours
• Personal fulfillment, enjoyment, and satisfaction
• Make a difference in the lives of my customers and employees
• Unable to find employment, so I need to buy a job
What else are franchise buyers looking for?
The phenomenal attraction of franchising centers around its successful business format. It can be bought, learned, and replicated by aspiring business owners.
Certainly, franchising isn’t for everyone, but it does afford a blueprint for business without many of the risks, expenses, and frustrations of “going solo” as an independent business owner. Here are some of the most common benefits that motivate people to buy a franchised business:
• Owning a business with a proven system of success
• Brand recognition and reputation of a franchise
• Opportunity to acquire better site locations
• Professional start-up training and ongoing programs
• Buying advantages of group purchasing
• Competitive advantages of research and development
• Increased equity and resale value of a franchise
• Marketing benefits and discounts of group advertising
• Profit from experience and networking with other franchisees
• Save time and money with a tested business plan
• Avoid costly mistakes the franchisor has already made
What is distinct and different about your franchise opportunity?
Five cornerstones for building a successful franchise ad
Business buyers evaluating a prospective purchase want answers to key opportunity factors. If you don’t provide these answers, their relatives, CPA, attorney, or armchair advisors will! During my career I’ve had the enviable position of gaining insight into these major decision-making criteria, which could make or break the attractiveness of a franchisor’s concept with discerning buyers. I’ve listened to, learned from, and consulted with hundreds of print and Internet advertisers seeking ways to accelerate their response rates. This included providing in-house creative services to increase lead generation performance. What we discovered were the critical factors that attract prospective franchisees—whether you’re a $50,000 cleaning franchise or a $1 million restaurant concept.
After developing and measuring hundreds of ad campaigns, it became clear what franchise buyers respond to, whether through print, electronic, trade show, or PR efforts. These “attention grabbers” must be showcased in your advertising. Otherwise, you’ll lose their eyeballs in 2 seconds to the 10 competing franchises next to your ad. Buyers need answers to five decision-making questions. Address these with a motivating message and you can take away more prospects from your competition!
1. What is your opportunity? Your opening copy must define in a
compelling statement what owning your business is all about: “We are
offering a professional, proven automotive service now available for
interested entrepreneurs in several states“ certainly isn’t going to arrest my
attention! Sounds boring, and where’s the sizzle? Please, get me excited
as I scan 200 franchises in nanoseconds on the Internet.
Now let’s transform this opening paragraph into an opportunity
statement for the reader: “Our high-demand safety technology has
revolutionized the automotive industry! We are now offering in limited
markets an executive management opportunity for qualified individuals
seeking a low inventory, patent-protected product endorsed by the U.S.
Automotive Safety Council and National Automotive Association.” Now
we have grabbed their appetite from the get-go with sizzle and meat
that can motivate prospects to read further!
2. Is there a market? In today’s fickle marketplace, businesses must have
staying power to survive. Buyers need to know about you. Does 75
percent of the U.S. population use your service annually, or is it a
specialized product targeting the booming health and fitness market?
Are you recession-resistant, and why? Prospective owners want facts
about the success, acceptance, and sustainability of your franchise
concept. Does it have a future, or is it just another fad? Tell me up front
to satisfy this fear.
Why in this competitive world don’t franchisors broadcast
compelling industry research about their businesses? It’s a must, and
great way to get a prospect’s attention. For example, many buyers
mistakenly think gourmet coffee is a saturated business, so one
franchisor tells them, “The specialty coffee market continues to explode in
an underserved market, with 77 percent of Americans now drinking hot
and cold coffee beverages, according to the Specialty Coffee Association.”
Many buyers don’t realize the magnitude of the picture framing
business, so another franchisor tells them, “Everyone is a potential
customer! The average U.S. household owns 14 paintings and pictures in
closets, under beds, and in garages waiting to be framed and hung.”
3. How will I benefit? Here’s your key opportunity to grandstand what’s
special about your franchise. This doesn’t mean making meaningless,
generic statements about “providing high-quality products and great
support for our franchisees.” Showcase your “wow” factors, those
outstanding four to six advantages that will excite prospects and
catapult you into their top picks for investigation: “24/7 on-call
franchisee help line”; “customer accounts provided through our national
marketing system”; “daily customers averaging 20 visits per month; “70
percent of our new franchises are purchased by existing owners”; “keep your
full-time job starting up this business”; “free weekends and holidays”; “you
can produce income within 45 days”; “no royalty fees.”
Sears Carpet & Upholstery Care aggressively leveraged their “wow”
factors. The company promoted some extraordinary benefits they
offered prospects: “Franchisees can access extensive local mailing lists of
Sears customers and can offer zero percent interest when they use their Sears
credit card.” Sears headlined its brand power in their ads, stating, “Two
thirds of households in the U.S. have done business with Sears.”
4. Are you credible? Buyers need assurances about your business successes,
capabilities, and health as a franchise system. Brag about your
achievements: “Ranked in the top 10 retail franchises in the U.S. by
Entrepreneur magazine”; “Recognized as ‘Business of the Year’ by the state
of Colorado”; “Servicing 550,000 households since 1976.”
Ad testimonials are essential for establishing credibility with your
prospects, yet more than one third of franchise websites don’t include
them according to Franchise Update’s Annual Franchise Development
Report. Who do you think buyers believe more—you, or franchisees
who have invested their lives into your business? Always feature owners
with their photos and franchise locations in your ads. Their experiences
and advice carry far more impact than your sales pitches. Customer
testimonials are also effective, especially for new concepts.
5. Do I qualify? Prospects want to know if they meet basic qualifications so
they don’t waste their time responding to your franchise advertising. And
if you don’t at least list initial financial requirements, they’re also wasting
your time. Flurries of emails and phone calls from individuals who can’t
afford your $300,000 franchise make little sense. In addition, let the
interested reader know up front if your success profile requires strong
management or sales skills, an engineering or mechanical aptitude, or prior
food service experience. Remember, buyers want to be pre-screened so they
can investigate franchise opportunities that are the right fit for them.
Make it a priority to court your prospects. The more attractively and convincingly you market your concept, the greater the opportunity to attract the right people to your franchise family. Show the benefits of your franchise and you’ll be rewarded with greater response from candidates who are attracted to the benefits your business has to offer.