The Resurgence of Live Events Using Data
One company received more than 17 million investors to attend hyper-local events; why is this critical for franchise development?
By Jorge Villar
There is nothing more powerful, as a franchise development professional, than to be face-to-face with motivated prospects who have shown interest in your company. Having 30 to 80 of these financially qualified individuals willingly attend your franchise expansion presentations in every one of your target markets is achievable, thanks to the resurgence of live events using data. In our case, over a 20-year period, we’ve had more than 17 million investors attend hyper-local events.
For two decades, we’ve used data to drive thousands of potential franchisees to our franchisor clients’ educational seminar events through the social dinner approach. Inviting highly targeted and profiled prospects to a neutral meeting location at local popular restaurants has revolutionized how franchisors of every type, size and location are attracting these elusive highly qualified and profiled investors.
Qualified prospects are guarded because everyone wants to reach them. They don’t want to go to an office, talk to salespeople or receive a call, and they most certainly don’t want to have you in their homes. So how do you get them to actually come to your events? Use data combined with a hyper-local approach to market and conduct live events.
By using sophisticated, targeted consumer data and by designing compelling, personalized direct marketing packages integrated with email, you can easily earn 30 to 80 qualified individuals to call in, make a reservation and then attend your franchise presentation in any of your target markets. These packages put your franchise development team in front of full rooms of motivated prospects that live in the geographic markets you have targeted for expansion. That is what really resonated with more than 56 decision-makers that visited our booth at the recent International Franchise Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas. These attendees all seemed to have tried different types of lead generation vehicles, including digital, web portals and brokers, but none of those brought in enough local qualified prospects in the actual territories targeted for expansion.
The Internet is widespread and it is difficult to qualify or control the proximity or profile of your prospect as you can with direct mail using insightful demographic, geographic and lifestyle characteristics that may be an important part of your franchisee profile. There’s no doubt that social media and online marketing have a place in franchise development. Good marketers will integrate media types into their campaigns. But leads generated from event marketing are far more qualified than leads generated from the Internet. Why? Because the goal of event marketing is to get face-to-face with a qualified, motivated franchisee prospect. With online marketing, the goal is to click. I’ve spoken to some of the best franchise development professionals in the industry and they have all stated emphatically their preference for event leads over online leads.
Your direct mail packaging and messaging are critical aspects to the success of your live events. Oscar Wilde said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression. “ That is certainly the case when it comes to your invitation package and message. There is a particular art and science to writing a seminar invitation. You can’t just copy and paste wording from a brochure or website and think it will motivate a prospect to respond. The copy has to be clear and compelling. When writing a seminar invitation, keep in mind the seven-second rule: the content must grab readers’ attention in seven seconds or less. If the copy accomplishes that goal, there’s a 90 percent chance that they will keep reading and consider responding. Bottom line: potential franchisees should receive high-end invitations with your franchise branding and a thorough and compelling explanation of your value proposition and the benefits of attending your event.
A few days later, they should receive the same message in an email format. Each campaign allows you to conduct two separate dinner events within seven days at a local popular restaurant that fits your target demographic.
For as long as there have been franchisors looking to grow their market share and to improve revenue flow and profit, there has been one challenge: having a consistent flow of qualified, motivated franchisee prospects. Using data with a hyper-local marketing approach solves that problem, and brands of every type and size are taking notice.
Jorge Villar is the founder of RME360, a leading edge marketing services firm based in Tampa. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.