For ambitious franchisors seeking to initiate cost-effective franchise lead generation campaigns, an integrated public relations strategy should be considered as the core of creative content across several earned and owned media channels.
Integrating the three chief components of the public relations mix – media relations, content marketing and social media – will augment your brand’s intended goals: getting your message in front of your ideal franchisee prospect and solidifying a call to action that will increase the likelihood of you making a sale.
Clear and consistent messaging is critical – your target audience should be able to easily understand your content on all channels. Consumers today are flooded with information at every turn in the road, so make sure that all outreach efforts lead to standing out from the crowd, both in message and creativity.
Let’s take a look at each of these PR channels and discuss how they can be best utilized together for the best franchise lead generation results.
One of the best ways to draw in franchise leads is to communicate your brand differentiators – that is to say, showcasing what separates your brand from the competition. Information is at your leads’ fingertips, and it’s your job to use every possible tool in your possession to reach the right people with the right message – that’s where publicity comes in.
Think about what makes your brand unique – maybe you do a lot community outreach, you have an outstanding giveback program or your product is adored by a specific demographic because of your customer service. All media placements – whether it’s local, regional or national print or online press, television or radio segments – should work toward the goal of explaining your brand differentiators to your ideal customer.
A particularly effective angle to take when using secured publicity to generate franchise leads is leveraging the personal stories of your existing set of star franchisees. Your leads will visualize themselves in the shoes of the franchisee, attaining success through your franchise system.
Once your candidate is hooked, has made an initial inquiry and has begun the due diligence process, it’s almost certain that they’re looking through your social media channels to see what’s out there. Consider your social media assets an opportunity to present your franchise’s vibe, culture and marketing approach – not to mention the loyal following it commands. Be attentive, creative and take the opportunity to tell your franchising story. Your prospect may fall off the tracks if your brand misrepresents itself with a sub-par social media strategy.
For ideas on how to convey your brand’s vibe to franchise leads, think about what causes you to stop scrolling on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to take a second look – generally, there’s a visual or multimedia element that catches your eye. Now put yourself in the shoes of your target and ask yourself what they want to see – try posting photos of your franchisees engaged with their communities, or of your home office doing fun things together. Generally, people respond positively to photos of people versus pure graphics, so bear that in mind when planning the visual elements of your social media campaigns.
Now that you’ve reeled in your lead with targeted earned media and kept their interest with engaging social media, the quality of your brand messaging becomes increasingly vital. ‘Content marketing’ is a loaded phrase and it can come in many shapes and sizes.
In conjunction with media relations and social media efforts for our franchise clients, we utilize ongoing consumer blogging and storytelling drip email campaigns to further the brand’s reach. These content marketing channels are a fantastic way to take advantage of today’s cost-effective multimedia opportunities to drive brand awareness and SEO. Top-notch writing skills, graphic design know-how, video editing expertise and all-around creativity come together to craft messages that create repeat business and brand equity.
While the idea of blasting out brand messaging to people on an email list is not new, there are ways we’ve found that are more effective than others in engaging the audience. Based on studies that show how people read and digest information, we keep the content short (between 200-300 words), utilize dynamic imagery and break up text with subheads. We have also found that people respond well to statistics, and we link to news articles, research studies or other quantitative information to corroborate our points.
Additionally, timing blog posts and e-mails (with subjects consistent with what you’re posting on social media) with the press and social media efforts is critical. Add elements such as photos, slideshows and videos from your PR campaign into your content marketing for consistency.
The avenues for franchise brands in aggressive growth mode to take with content marketing can be overwhelming, but here are a few to consider:
E-newsletters with compelling branded graphic appeal that merchandise recently-secured press coverage and franchising blog entries
Video testimonials from your franchisee stars
An online news center complete with current blog entries and recent press items (also a fantastic tool for amplifying SEO efforts)
A seminar or webinar series with sign-up landing pages rich with compelling imagery, links to brand information and testimonials
At this stage, you have permission to market to your leads. This is the time to remain focused on your cadence of communication and to have a collection of content to re-affirm their decision to move forward with your franchise.
An integrated PR strategy has the power to shift your franchise development into high gear. Get to your growth goals with a public relations approach that includes media relations, social media and content marketing all functioning in concert together. It will help you develop your lead flow and complete the conversions your franchise concept commands.
Here are six foolproof ways to help your brand stand out from the crowd.
Tap into the emotional components of your founding story
Encourage franchisees to join local business leadership groups
Contribute to different media as an industry expert
Tell the story of your most successful franchisees to inspire others
Franchisee testimonials demonstrate belief in the context
Integrate messaging across multiple cost-effective channels
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