Attract Prospects and Customers With a Magnetic Wall of Content
Franchise brands can secure an edge over competitors by generating powerful online and offline content.
In today’s technological world, generating a consistent stream of appealing content related to your brand is paramount to success in franchising. Prospective franchisees have more tools at their fingertips than ever before and are no longer completely dependent on portals, franchise consultants and franchise development executives. Even if they do consult those traditional resources, prospects do their homework and invest in brands that have worked hard to build a robust online/offline presence via media hits, social media engagement, blog writing and YouTube videos.
Technological advancements have permanently changed franchise development, as well as consumer-focused marketing, thus many brands are struggling to catch up and adjust to the new normal. Older, bigger brands are being forced to accept the fact they can no longer “buy” prospect attention and trust with a strong portal presence, long-standing franchise consultant relationships and expensive media buys. On the other hand, emerging brands are struggling to pinpoint the most cost-effective way to build awareness for their brands in an increasingly crowded online environment.
Regardless of size, the franchise brands that look best online and appear in the news are the ones attracting qualified candidates who fit their brand. These brands make sure their PR and social media efforts are synchronized − a practice we’ve coined “social relations” − and work hard to build a magnetic “wall of content” that appeals to customers and franchise prospects.
Defining and Developing a Powerful Wall of Content
Your franchise brand’s wall of content is comprised of the messages, images and videos produced online and offline about your brand. The better you can integrate your traditional and social channels, and actively contribute to the conversations about your brand (both online and offline), the more you can control what people learn about your brand via your content wall.
Franchise brands cannot exert forceful control over the conversations occurring about their brands online and offline. However, brands can actively participate in those conversations and leave lasting impressions on customers and prospects. Here are five key points that have helped other franchise brands positively influence the organic conversations about their brands:
- They have a plan. There is no simple solution that will magically provide a brand with millions of media impressions and a strong online presence. Building and maintaining a wall of content is a seven-days-a- week, 365-days-a-year commitment that never ends. Brands that have made the most headway are operating within the framework of a marketing plan that helps guide their social relations effort. Don’t put the cart before the horse: do the research on your customers and prospects, determine the key messages you’d like to deliver, and focus on the best online and offline platforms to reach the people most likely to buy your brand.
- They take social media seriously and react swiftly. A brand’s online presence should not be taken lightly. Brands that succeed online have staff members or an external marketing partner who consistently monitor online conversations about the brand and the industry they serve. If a customer comments about a recent experience with the brand or if a key topic impacting the industry is being discussed, the brands that provide the most helpful response in the timeliest fashion will achieve higher industry visibility and influence.
- They consistently create valuable content that connects the brand’s value proposition. This is a delicate balance for most brands. Customers and prospects want fun, interesting and provocative content. Brands want to share information about their company and the franchise opportunity. The brands doing this will share things like problem/solution stories from franchisees on their blog, provide valuable advice on a perplexing industry issue on Facebook and share shocking statistics found in an industry-related article on their Twitter page. You can, and should, include your company’s values and the franchise opportunity, but not a blatant advertisement. Customers or prospects will not respond favorably.
- They stand for something that matters to customers and prospects. This is critical for a brand’s wall of content: it has to own key words or a topic that matters to customer and prospects. This is incredibly important to your search engine optimization program. It’s essential to think of some of the characteristics and interests that top-performing franchisees share. What were the emotional triggers that helped you form a bond with those franchisees? Once you uncover those things, make sure your social relations’ effort is laser focused on sharing content and advice that positions you as a brand possessing the same values and interests.
- They work in tandem with their marketing partner. Working with a marketing firm with franchise experience can provide a refreshing perspective. Unlike an internal department, an external partner works with clients in a variety of industries which offers a well-rounded and unbiased perspective regarding media and online solutions. However, relationships with agencies work only if the partnership is a team effort. Regardless of the scope of work, agency relationships function most successfully when there is an internal department or employee who can provide updates on new programs and developments and respond quickly when questions or opportunities arise.
The Social Relations Toolbox
There is a seemingly endless list of marketing tools available today. That’s why it’s critical to start your brand’s wall of content process by developing a focused social relations plan. Unless you begin by uncovering what matters to your top-performing franchisees and knowing where your prospects are seeking new opportunities, it’s likely you will waste time disseminating subpar messages and focusing on marketing tools that will generate minimal results.
Work with your internal staff and external agency to build a disciplined plan of action and invest your marketing dollars on the social relations tools most likely to reach and impact ideal prospects. The following is a list of tools to consider:
- PR/Media hits
- Website content
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Social media profiles and activity
- Online videos
- Review sites
- Message boards
- PR/Media hits
- Strategic partnerships
Examples of Wall of Content Success
Creating a magnetic wall of content is not a marketing theory − it can be accomplished if the five key points noted above dictate your social relations activities. Here are two brands from different industries that are having success with their own walls of content:
Visiting Angels, a leading in-home senior care provider, built its wall of content to appeal to seniors at times when in-home care services are most needed. With “elder elves” campaigns during the holidays and “summer survival kits” in the summer, the brand has shown how it is available to help seniors at critical times.
Papa Murphy’s, the national leader in “take and bake” pizza has used integrated guerilla marketing, PR and social media campaigns to share unique approaches to cooking pizza, such as grilling pizza in the summer. This has generated countless media opportunities and has inspired customers to make “grilling Papa Murphy’s pizza” a popular search term for the brand.
David Chapman is the founder and CEO of 919 Marketing Company. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.