Megan Redzia - 12/20/2018
Lead generation is one of the most important roles in a franchise organization, but it can also be one of the most challenging. The competitive franchise industry climate has made it more difficult than ever to get the attention of qualified candidates. When executed properly, a multi-pronged public relations strategy comprised of media relations, content development trade shows and social media can generate meaningful franchisee leads that will convert into sales. In this blog post, we’ll share how this recommended mix of public relations tools can help fill your franchise candidate pipeline.
Establishing Credibility and Support through Media Relations
While your concept’s marketing assets will tout your franchisee benefits, they won’t have the same impact as media coverage about your brand. From what we’ve seen time and time again, nothing can establish credibility for a franchise concept like media relations. Think about it this way – would you choose to go to a new restaurant that has a shiny new website or one your friends raved about? Qualified candidates doing their own research will search for your brand online and you’ll stand out among competitors if they find news about your franchise agreements, grand openings, sales growth and community involvement.
An ongoing proactive media relations program will also demonstrate a franchisor’s investment in the success of each franchisee. One major benefit of becoming part of a franchise concept rather than starting your own business is the support you receive from the franchisor. Our franchise clients experienced direct growth from having a national and local public relations program because it helped them to stand out from the crowd among candidates. A public relations firm can begin working directly with franchisees as soon as they sign on to create initial interest and on an ongoing basis to maintain buzz in their local area.
Attracting Qualified Leads with Optimized Content
Whether someone is buying their first franchise or is an experienced developer, candidates will turn to Google to conduct research and ask questions. In order to attract the right type of buyers, you need to anticipate their common questions and develop content that addresses them. What makes your business model unique? What is the growth potential of your franchise industry category? What support do you give your franchisees?
You may already have some of this information on your franchise information website, but in order to ensure your brand ends up in your candidate’s search results, you need to have an ongoing content development strategy. A public relations firm can effectively use content to improve your brand’s SEO with a combination of content types:
- Media Coverage – Press coverage garnered through a public relations strategy can also help to improve your company’s SEO by securing backlinks on powerful and influential websites.
- Blogs – Maintaining a strategic and consistent blog schedule can greatly improve your website traffic from franchise leads. A blog editorial calendar should be developed based on thorough keyword research to ensure your content attracts target prospects.
- Landing Pages – These pages on your website are specifically designed and written to get your visitor to take a desired action. According to a study done by Hubspot, company websites that have over 31 landing pages will get 7 times more leads than a company with less than 5 landing pages. In franchising, landing pages can be used to identify qualified candidates by offering valuable content in exchange for their contact details. Based on the type of content leads are downloading, your development experts can more easily identify who will likely convert to a sale and have an informed conversation.
Generate Franchise Sales with Trade Shows
Purchasing a franchise is a very personal decision. In addition to investing money in a concept, many franchisees want to feel a connection to a concept’s culture. Therefore, people interested in franchising often attend trade shows or local franchise industry events to have face-to-face interaction with multiple concepts – and see how they stack up against one another. This is a great opportunity for emerging as well as established franchise brands to attract leads at the top of the sales funnel.
A public relations firms’ role in a trade show strategy is twofold:
- Vetting and Organizing – There is no shortage of trade shows every year and exhibiting at them can be expensive. Your PR firm can help you determine which are most likely to have the greatest ROI based on your brand’s growth goals. They can also help to secure ways your brand can garner the greatest amount of candidate attention from the show, including sponsorship opportunities and speaking engagements.
- Maximizing Your Investment – Have you ever thought about how your presence at a trade show can generate press coverage and prospect visibility? A trade show public relations strategy includes pre-show, onsite and post-show tactics to generate media coverage about your brand.
Target and Engage Franchise Candidates on Social Media
Social media platforms are another tool in a PR pros’ toolbox. A strategic social media program can target prospective franchisees when they are in the research phase, and gives the concept a direct way to interact with them. In order to successfully generate leads from social media you need a plan of action.
Here’s the process we recommend:
- Audience Audit – Determine what channels your target candidates are on and how they are using them. You don’t want to go in blind developing content and investing in ads that won’t reach your audience.
- Repurpose Content – The content you are developing to attract leads – blogs, press releases and landing pages – can be leveraged across your social channels to maximize their impact.
- Drive Engagement – Achieving organic reach on social channels, particularly Facebook, is more challenging than ever. Your franchise needs to have a strong strategy build around driving conversations and interactions in order to get in front of leads.
- Leverage Advertising – Social media advertising campaigns also offer the ability to narrowly target a concept’s ideal franchisee. Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn provide lead generation ads that allow users to submit their contact information without having to the leave the website or app. The ads also pre-populate with information users have shared with the platforms. An easy form fill process for candidates = more leads for your franchise development team.
The combination of these integrated public relations tactics can be a powerful way to spread awareness about your concept and increase franchise lead generation to ultimately grow your brand. To learn more about improving lead generation through a public relations strategy, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.