So the first quarter is approaching its end. How many real leads did you generate? Or better yet how many REAL leads resulted in deals this quarter? 10? 20? 30? 50?
That’s the big question being asked to every franchisor this coming week. There has been conference after conference talking about how to get more leads, better leads, etc. So, what are the results? Please share any success stories with me here at Allbusiness.com. I’ll be looking for comments to discuss further in future blogs.
I’ll share with you where I think the REAL leads are – they’re in the local communities hiding among your prospects’ influencers. Huh?
It’s simple. If you’ve been using portals, national print ads, direct mail, or email blasts to blind lists, I bet your answer to my deal question above will be “low.” The franchisors that killed it this quarter are those digging deep into the communities they hope to serve this year (and who have some type of financing solution).
When I say digging deep into communities, I specifically mean you have studied where their prospects live, work, and play. Do the prospects frequent business associations, alumni groups, or entrepreneurial clubs? If they have a high net worth, are they active in certain golf clubs or local homeowners associations in expensive neighborhoods? Maybe they like MMA and are regulars at the local Hooters?
Once you’ve determined the answers to the questions above, it’s time to head out to the market – yes, you need to get on a plane and visit the organizations your prospects frequent. How can these organizations or groups help you meet the future of your franchise? The answer to this question will vary from hosting brown bag lunches on franchising, to sponsoring events, to sending email blasts to group members. It might even include a night at Hooters sitting at the bar chatting it up with the customers. Figure out which works for your concept. Remember, it all starts with knowing your prospect cold!
In fact, several concepts have been using these meetings to market local brand-specific seminars in market to drive leads. One such system attributed 20 deals to this tactic alone!
As an aside, if you’re planning or are looking to plan a local brand-specific seminar, please please make sure you sell the benefits of franchising first, and THEN the brand. If you shove your brand down an attendees throat, you will not sign anyone. We must be ambassadors of the business model before selling our brands.
These tactics are not much different than traditional marketing, but they’re tapping the equity and credibility of an organization or group to further your franchise sales marketing message. And this grassroots franchisee recruitment strategy works. In this economy, brands will grow with this strategy. It’s simple to understand that if you want to expand to Atlanta, you must be actively marketing in Atlanta. National marketing, PR, and advertising works to validate prospects’ exposure to messages in their respective communities.
Some of you reading this might be thinking, “But what if I’m a one-man show?” This should not prevent you from using a local strategy to grow. Just because you can’t travel to most target markets, you can still succeed with this plan.
First, tier your market targets and assign priorities. The most important ones – new markets, low penetration DMAs – should have local face-to-face visits. Others can benefit from some local PR and advertising. A seminar can turn into a webinar that speaks to local prospects. Invite a local franchisee to take part; localize it to the community. Show that you are and want to continue to be a part of their city.
Eager for feedback and experience sharing. Please post them below. Don’t let Q2 slip away — after that it’s all catch up from there.
<hr /> Lorne Fisher, CFE, is CEO/Managing Partner of Fish Consulting, a national PR & marketing firm specializing in serving mature and emerging franchise companies.<span style=”mso-spacerun: yes”> </span>He speaks frequently at various franchise conferences and serves as an instructor at the International Institute for Franchise Education at the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Entrepreneurship in South Florida.<span style=”mso-spacerun: yes”> </span>Learn more at Fish’s <a href=”http://www.fish-consulting.com/” target=”_blank”>Web site</a> or <a href=”http://fishonfranchising.blogspot.com/” target=” _blank”>Fish on Franchising blog</a>. Contact Lorne via <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” target=”_blank”>email</a> or <a href=”http://www.twitter.com/lornefisher” target=”_blank”>Twitter</a> anytime