Lead Generation Success: Measure Results To Improve Performance
Audit your advertising and increase results
What you don't know, you can't measure. And what you can't measure, you can't improve! Successful recruitment programs invest in marketing intelligence and monitoring tools to 1) determine their most productive selling sources; 2) create compelling, direct-response advertising for each media source selected; and 3) stay ahead of or in step with the competition.
Good news for you smart execs! Many franchise companies still don't track their marketing performance - which provides competitive advantages for those intelligent franchisors who do successfully monitor, measure, and modify their lead generation programs. By knowing where you are and where you want to go, you build the shortest road to get there. Not so for the shotgun advertisers who stumble along an aimless, winding path wasting marketing dollars. They have difficulty setting realistic budgets and franchise goals, and continue to lose opportunities for achieving greater growth.
Not analyzing media results (including social) is extremely costly. After monitoring their group newspaper advertising, a multi-brand franchisor discovered they paid one newspaper $30,000 for producing two inquiries over a three-year period. To make matters worse, neither lead was qualified. After an audit, another franchise organization realized the few thousand they thought they were spending in "cheap" secondary publications had become quite expensive, totaling more than $40,000 annually!
Closing performance gaps with the sales department
Recently I reviewed the lead generation performance of a retail food franchisor. We discovered a costly disconnect between marketing administration and the sales team. The company was on a half-dozen online ad sites and had recently dumped the lowest lead producer. In checking sources for each deal they closed that year, wouldn't you know the website they axed was the top sales generator? The problem, of course, was that they were looking only at leads and buying advertising based on their lead activity flow. They made the all-too-common error of equating marketing success with number of leads delivered.
How can franchisors effectively track their leads?
"It's easier than many think," according to Chuck Fuller, former vice president of Interactive Media for Entrepreneur, who says the technology is already in place. Franchisors should always ask a prospect to identify the lead source as they are responding. Find out, while it's fresh in their mind, whether they found you through a website, another advertising medium, or both.
- Include "How did you come to our website?" on your online response form, and provide a drop-down screen or check-off boxes listing all the recruitment sources you use for online, print, shows, referrals, PR, and other venues.
- You can measure your click-through traffic from other sites and search engines by instructing your web host to set up special address links for each of these locations and providing you with summary reports.
- Use a franchise lead management system to organize your lead activity, and to identify candidates who progress through the various stages of your sales process to the final close.
Emotional buys are no longer affordable
Recruitment advertising has one primary mission: generate qualified prospects for franchise ownership. Branding, image, or any other marketing objective really have no value if your advertising isn't generating responses. Only results count. However, some companies that recognize this still hesitate to aggressively address their lead challenges.
A franchisor in the Southwest was spending $50,000 a year in an industry publication because they believed it should work and that they should have a "presence." Another service franchise invested $100,000 annually with a major ad source that used to produce qualified buyers. Even though their sales steadily dropped and the medium was no longer effective, the franchisor felt guilty about breaking the long-term relationship and continued to advertise.
Is it your marketing that's not working?
Sometimes an advertising source takes the fall for underlying weaknesses stalling franchise development. I have seen one franchisor sell qualified franchisees through brokers, while a direct competitor failed miserably; a service franchisor dump a print publication claiming "poor and unqualified leads," yet two similar companies ranked it as their leading sales source; one franchise executive get caught hiding international leads in his drawer, after the media source furnished duplicates to his suspecting management; and a franchisor stop advertising because none of the inquiring prospects responded to his five-page, photocopied follow-up letter plagued by misspellings and bad grammar. The lesson in these extreme examples is to monitor performance in all areas of your recruitment program.
Start now and profit
Enjoy added recruitment rewards by aggressively auditing your advertising this year. If you are in the group of franchisors who don't know their specific lead and sales costs by media, or who haven't analyzed the effectiveness of their marketing program, now is the time. The payoff in reduced costs, greater lead activity, and sales can be significant.
This excerpt is Step Four of "The Four Steps to Lead Generation Success" from my Amazon.com best-selling book, "Grow to Greatness: How to build a world-class franchise system faster." To order copies, click here.
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