At whichfranchise we have worked with hundreds of franchise brands over the past 20 years, so we’re in an ideal position when it comes to advising franchisors on how to get the most from their online advertising. Here are our top tips to maximise your brand potential:
1. Use unique content
Search engine companies, like Google or Bing, have a huge say in how quickly and easily your website is found by prospective franchisees. The billions of websites in existence are categorised, ranked and prioritised according to how closely you follow Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) ‘rules’.
One significant step you can take to rank higher in search results and, consequently, reach more prospective franchisees, is to use unique content. Therefore, we highly recommend you avoid duplicating content across the franchise websites you utilise, including your own. Take the time to write unique content for each site; this should be considered an integral part of your marketing plan.
2. Prepare your profile with the prospective franchisee in mind
As a franchisor, you know exactly what your business does and what the franchise opportunity is, but does that come across clearly in your profile?
A common mistake that franchisors make is putting emphasis on the type of business you are and the industry in which you operate, but not on the actual franchise opportunity.
For example, you are a business that operates in the cleaning industry, but as a franchisor you are looking to recruit franchisees to manage their own cleaning business. Does your profile convey this message clearly? Or does it target only those who are interested in cleaning and alienate anyone looking for a management franchise?
Keep in mind that not all franchisees know the industry they wish to work in but do have an idea of the type of business they want to run.
3. Find the right balance of information
We know you are passionate about your business, but don’t be tempted to include everything about your opportunity in your profile, as too much information might discourage potential franchisees from contacting you to find out more. Similarly, too little may not interest them enough! The best sales tool is capturing prospective franchisees who are RIGHT for your business, so give enough information to entice them to want to know more.
4. Franchisees are your most valuable selling point!
There is no-one better to tell prospective franchisees about your business than franchisees themselves. Ask your franchisees to provide unique case studies and interviews; these will allow prospective franchisees to gain a better insight into what your franchise opportunity actually entails and what makes a successful franchisee. By doing this you will allow them to identify if this is the right franchise for them.
5. Be honest about the cost of your franchise
Always give a true indication on the cost of your franchise opportunity. There is no point just providing your franchise fee when there are other costs involved. Not being upfront about this may encourage those without the right investment level to enquire, wasting both their time and yours. If you want serious leads, then you need to disclose the RIGHT information to encourage the RIGHT people to apply.
6. Utilise all areas of your advertising package
Spend time each week reviewing what you currently have on franchise websites. Are you doing enough? Is there anything you are not taking advantage of that is part of your package? At whichfranchise we regularly contact our franchisors to discuss features we are running. Time can often be scarce, but to get the most from your advertising investment, then set aside time to write new articles etc.
If in doubt about the tools available within your package, ask your account manager for a breakdown of what’s included.
7. Keep your profile up to date
It is vital to make sure what you are saying is current and you aren’t misleading anyone with out-of-date information. For example, prospective franchisees get annoyed if they enquire about a particular franchise that is advertised in their area, but when they speak to the franchisor it is no longer available.
8. Be vocal about your achievements
This goes for both franchisees and franchisors. You have worked hard to get where you are so make sure you shout about it. Issue news articles to let prospective franchisees know how successful your franchise is and the people who make it a success, i.e. the franchisees. A serious prospective franchisee will do a lot of research into your opportunity and having good news articles outlining your successes will show them you’re a franchise with ambition.
9. Be sociable
It’s crucial for franchise brands to actively engage with prospective franchisees on social media, especially the most used platforms: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Social media’s potential for reaching budding entrepreneurs, business-minded individuals and those seeking new career paths, is huge.
Don’t dismiss this medium; utilise it from the top-down, from the franchise support team to your franchisees and employees. Providing social media guidelines and agreements can ensure your brand name and reputation is protected, and those involved know how to utilise these platforms in a way that benefits their business and your brand name. Remember to enjoy the process and that, ultimately, it’s all about engaging your audience.
10. If you have a problem, don’t be silent
And finally, if you have any problems with your online advertising, don’t stay quiet about it, tell your account manager. They should be more than happy to help you by conducting an initial audit of your profile views and leads you have received.
Following this they should look to improve your current profile content, utilise the advertising facilities on offer to you, and discuss additional opportunities to build up your brand presence throughout the site. Ensure that you take on their expert advice and don’t be afraid to try something a little outside your comfort zone.
To stand out to prospective franchisees from your competitors, be active, be bold, and be seen!
Suzanne Melville is head of marketing at whichfranchise, the bfa’s online partner and long-term supporter of ethical franchising. She can be contacted via email or on 0141 204 0050.