While some franchisors seem to be continuing their cutbacks on marketing, smart companies know this is the time for bold, positive action.
So how do you go about creating the marketing pieces that will jump-start your franchise sales efforts? It starts with the story. You need to create a powerful brand story that’s compelling on both an emotional and logical level. It must both inspire and motivate your prospects to action, as well as answer questions such as “What do I get for my money?” and “Why do I need you?”
Once your story’s crafted, it should be communicated consistently through a number of essential methods, including these:
1. Franchise Brochure
Despite living in the digital age, the franchise brochure remains the undisputed king of franchise marketing materials and the one absolute essential. Not only will prospects pour over every inch of it, it will be scrutinised by their spouses, lawyers, accountants, landlords, investors and their know-it-all brother-in-law, Jerry.
So forget the cheapo folder with the chopped-up inserts. Go four-colour with quality copy and design by a company that knows franchising, and use excellent photography and printing stock. Good brochures can cost R16 to R20 per piece in quantity, but are well worth the price. Consider a print shop with digital printing capabilities, if you prefer a shorter print run (under 1 000).
The ‘mini me’ of franchise marketing, a tri-fold rack brochure can be used as a trade show handout, a direct mailer, or an in-store promotion. Printed in quantity, a four-colour mini-brochure can be produced for as little as R1 per piece, making it much more economical than its big brother.
The obvious digital essential, a franchise’s website is part franchise advertisement and part promotional material. Its purpose is both to generate franchise leads and to promote the franchise to people who already know of the opportunity. A well designed site is the cost of franchise entry these days: franchisors without a professional looking site will lack credibility. And here’s a tip: don’t offer too many details about your franchise opportunity on your site unless you require prospects to provide contact information to view it. Your goal is to generate contacts and harvest leads, not answer every question your prospects may have for you.
4. Email Response Messages
Your website can generate a massive amount of unqualified leads to sift through. To solve this problem, we recommend a system of customised, auto-responding, follow-up email messages that encourage interested prospects and filter out unqualified inquiries without wasting valuable staff time. The appropriateness of this strategy varies from franchisor to franchisor.
Often designed in a Flash format, e-brochures are about the same size and dimension as a standard business card but are designed to run in the CD-ROM or DVD drive of most computers. Your message should be compelling and can even include video clips and voice-over narration. Low production costs make them an economical way to deliver a tremendous amount of information in a small package, but they have the disadvantage of requiring a computer in order to deliver that message.
E-brochures can double as a franchisor’s website, and can even require some data capture in order to access them. Some franchisors will even use these e-brochures as email attachments for more immediacy. These aren’t an essential, but they’re a strong piece that demonstrates that your company is state-of-the-art.
6. Sales Videotape
An eight to ten minute, professionally produced franchise sales videotape is hard to beat for effectiveness. With sound, music, narration and vivid videography, a quality video draws your prospects into the franchise experience like no other medium. It’s also great for group presentations and for sending to distant prospects. Sales videotapes enable you to deploy the most powerful secret weapon of franchise sales: enthusiastic testimonials from happy, successful franchisees. From a production standpoint, the development of this video also allows an easy transition to the e-brochure, which is considerably less expensive than the cost per tape would be.
The Difference Between Franchise & Consumer Marketing
The other day, I saw a beautiful brochure from a hair salon franchise – glossy finish, heavy stock, full-bleed four-colour photos. And on the cover, there was a photo of a pristine salon in operation: three barbers standing shoulder-to-shoulder, just waiting for me to come in to get my hair cut. As a consumer, I was thrilled. I could simply walk right up to this immaculate operation, and in minutes, I’d have one of these three barbers cutting my hair, with no waiting!
The Right Image
But this brochure illustrated the franchisee’s worst nightmare! What if I open this business and nobody comes? The prospect, at least subliminally, is thinking, I’m paying those three barbers. And there’s no one in those chairs.
When creating marketing materials, franchisees want to see the fur flying. Consumers in the chairs. Cash changing hands. Needless to say, marketing to prospective franchisees is very different from marketing to consumers.
Since your marketing materials must be consistent, changes in the franchise offering will dictate changes in your marketing materials. Given the expense of printing brochures or producing videotapes, it’s imperative that these materials are developed to be timeless.
Brochures should avoid discussion of material contract terms or costs that may be subject to change. Instead, this information should be contained in separate inserts that are often inserted in a dye-cut pocket. And in all your materials, avoid references to dates, numbers of units, or events with a specific reference in time.
In short, savvy franchisors recognise that it’s boom time for franchising. They’re putting a fresh coat of paint on their concepts, rallying their troops, and boldly communicating their optimism and excitement. They’re producing fresh corporate marketing materials, and getting them into the right people’s hands.
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