The Four Steps to Lead Generation Success: Steps 1 and 2

Step 1: Define your market of qualified prospects

Who is your ideal franchise buyer?
Let's begin with knowing your market. Producing quality prospects starts with understanding who your franchise candidate is. Marketing efforts will be disastrous if you don't! It's like being in a boxing match blindfolded with the lights out, with no clear target to punch. You'll be working with the wrong prospects and wasting a bundle of money and time. Worse yet, you'll award franchises to unqualified owners, a painful mistake not easy to resolve.

For superior marketing, craft your franchisee success profile first, before you even think about how to promote your franchise opportunity. If you ever lose sight of your buyer, you can no longer grow to the greatness you aspire.

Step 2: Create your message that motivates buyer response

What motivates your buyer?
Once you know who your market of prospects is, how can you influence their thinking to take a look at your franchise concept? Approaching key buyers with a misguided message is a recipe for failure. Selling Power magazine published a landmark survey of 445 top sales executives representing 31 different industries. The research was conducted by sales experts and scholars from leading business schools. After polling participants on the marketing challenges of their companies, the study revealed an astounding fact:

"Only 56 percent of the sales organizations say their marketing collateral is designed the way their customers buy."

Franchise companies are often guilty of building lead generation programs without defining what successfully prompts their buyers to respond. Some dump big bucks hiring ad agencies to develop gorgeous-looking ads and glitzy marketing campaigns, only to discover they missed the mark and have to re-engineer their materials. The best way to drive leads? Know what drives your buyers! Find out how to court your prospects. The more attractively and convincingly you market your concept, the greater opportunity to attract the right people to your franchise family.

People buy opportunities, not businesses

Young franchisors frequently stumble launching their franchise marketing programs. They over-promote their products and ignore featuring their business opportunity. Show the benefits of owning your franchise! Market what your buyers are looking for as owners--not as retail customers. It's more than showcasing big, juicy hamburgers, beautiful display racks, colorful service trucks, or shiny high-tech equipment. Thank you, but prospects aren't interested in eating your food right now, or purchasing your custom service truck. "Tell me what your business can do for me!" Focus on what they want, seek, and can aspire to achieve through your program!

Even Blockbuster, during its reign as the established industry leader, made this mistake in the late '90s. Their "Madison Avenue" agency wanted to create an aggressive marketing campaign that would ramp up their franchise sales. Because the agency wasn't schooled in franchise marketing, the understandably nervous franchise executive tried to hire a franchise consultant to assist. Unfortunately, politics dictated moving forward with the agency, and their first beautifully produced ad hit the streets. "Own your own Blockbuster, the hottest ticket in town," was the message, focusing on the huge inventory of selections and great store layout. That was it. Nothing about ownership benefits, lifestyle attractions, exploding market statistics, or purchasing clout. Nothing. Just another retail image ad, not response-driven. I called to console the frustrated executive knowing the ad campaign bombed. That ad never ran again.

The lesson: Sell your opportunity and save your merchandise promotions for your consumer advertising and you'll attract interested prospects!

Next month: More on what motivates potential franchisee buyers: What are business buyers looking for? What are franchise buyers looking for? The market pioneer vs. the "me too" buyer. What owner benefits will attract buyers to your franchise?

This is an excerpt from my best-selling book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system faster." To order copies, click here.

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