How Content Marketing Can Close Franchise Deals Faster
Looking to increase the quality of franchise leads and close deals faster? Then be sure to include a content marketing strategy in your overall marketing mix.
By Rachael Wachstein
It’s no secret that franchisors like to target the same groups of people for franchise sales (multi-unit franchisees, c-level executives, veterans, etc.). Because everyone is targeting the same groups, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to break through the clutter and properly reach your target audience. To make matters worse, franchisors often use the same marketing strategy to target those who are already invested in franchise brands and those who are new to franchising.
It is now clear that prospects, not the franchise brands, are in control the franchise sales process. Thanks to modern-day technology such as search engines and social media, prospective franchisees have greater access to information and are self-directed in their research of franchise opportunities. The sales cycle has shifted from offline to online, giving franchise prospects the ability to learn about a franchise opportunity, research it and begin the process before even contacting the potential brand.
How do you reach these franchise prospects? How do you grab their attention and create engagement with your brand? The answer is content marketing. It is a strategic marketing strategy that is focused on creating and distributing valuable and useful content to attract a clearly defined audience. By using content marketing, franchise brands can influence and speed up the franchise sales cycle from discovery to decision.
The first step in the franchise sales cycle is the discovery process. To generate new franchise leads, the first step is to make prospects aware of the opportunity. But in a world of message overload, how do you break through and connect with qualified prospects? The best way to gain attention of your franchise opportunity is by providing content that speaks directly to your target audience.
The process of developing powerful content that speaks to the specific needs of franchise prospects begins with audience segmentation. In order to know what kind of content will be most relevant to your audience, you must first clearly define your audience. The initial instinct may be to create as broad of an audience as possible, but remember that quality trumps quantity when it comes to franchise leads.
Franchise brands should develop profiles of each separate target audience to provide more insights into their particular goals and motivations. These defined prospect personas should include their interests, needs, desires, pain points and objections regarding the franchise opportunity. These insights are essential to reference when developing your messaging so you can speak directly to them and stand out among the hundreds of other messages they see daily.
After you’ve clearly defined your prospect personas, it’s time to leverage these insights in order to connect with and motivate franchise prospects closer to closing the deal. Start by mapping out the entire sales process from their first introduction to the franchise opportunity to the final stage of closing the franchise deal. By determining what path these prospective franchisees will follow, you can deploy a content marketing strategy that strategically speaks directly to buyers in each stage of the process.
The Content Piece
Here is where the “content” in content marketing comes in. Develop a content piece that speaks to the needs of a particular segment of your target franchise prospects. The purpose of the content is to answer questions, overcome objections and assist prospective franchisees in researching your franchise opportunity. Examples of content that speaks to franchisees include:
- A Franchise Focused Blog: Creating a franchisee-facing blog helps to attract qualified prospects through regularly published content that demonstrates expertise and thought-leadership and builds trust. Blogs are an important part of generating traffic because when optimized correctly, they show up in search engine results for the company and relevant keywords. It is also important to note that blog posts can be repurposed to reach a wider audience in monthly eNewsletters, LinkedIn articles and more.
- Infographics: One of the best ways to cut through the clutter is to put the information you’re trying to get across into a visually stimulating graphic. An infographic provides prospective franchisees with information that validates the franchise opportunity by showing the need and demand for the company’s services in a visual and engaging way. It is much more compelling to demonstrate validating factors through statistics, facts and images than it is to tell a prospect how great the opportunity is.
- eBooks: An eBook is a long form piece of content that speaks to the needs of a particular segment of your target franchise prospects. Franchise brands can offer free downloadable eBooks on their websites in exchange for contact information. eBooks should provide prospects with useful and relevant content that can help steer them to your brand without being overly promotional. Examples of ideal eBook topics can include industry outlook reports or tips for those looking to get into the industry.
- Email Nurture Series: Build an email nurture campaign that answer questions about the opportunity and counter objections to investing that is triggered after you receive their contact information. Automating the lead nurturing process makes your franchise sales efforts more efficient and gives your sales executives more time to generate leads and close deals. The email lead nurture campaign can be executed through your existing CRM or email service system or set up through any email service provider for a minimal cost.
Consideration and Due Diligence
After the content is created, you should distribute it on all owned, paid and earned channels including franchise development website, LinkedIn company pages and online advertising channels such as emails through industry publications. Content can answer questions that prospects have about the opportunity and segment, which reduces the time franchise sales executives spend to close deals.
Thanks to the endless stream of information available online, potential franchisees are researching and evaluating your opportunity long before you ever have contact with them. It is crucial that the information prospects find online about your franchise opportunity is persuasive enough to keep them engaged until they are ready to contact you. For this reason, a strong digital footprint is the foundation of successful franchise lead generation efforts. Content marketing creates a compelling digital footprint that assists prospects in researching and evaluating your franchise opportunity.
If you’re looking to increase the quality of franchise leads and close deals faster, your brand should include a content marketing strategy in your overall marketing mix. If you are unsure about which methods will work best for your needs, seek an experienced and knowledgeable firm to help answer any questions you might have.
Rachael Wachstein is vice president of content marketing for Fishman Public Relations. Find her at fransocial.franchise.org.