An old fisherman I once knew loved to talk wistfully of his once-secret fishing hole. Whenever he'd toss in a line - voila! - the fish would practically jump in the boat. It was just perfect... until the day all the other fisherman started showing up. Suddenly, he was having a hard time finding room to cast a line, to say nothing of catching fish.
The state of franchise lead generation today has a lot in common with that fisherman. Simply put, too many franchises rely on the same sources for their leads, and, frankly, the pond just doesn't have enough fish to go around.
It's time to pack it up and find some new lead sources. If you're not sure where to begin, here are some tips to help you get started.
When good fishermen get ready to go out, they don't just jump in their boat and motor around aimlessly. They take time to study the fish: where they most likely will be, what kind of bait they prefer, and the time they prefer to eat.
The same is true of franchise lead generation. To generate new leads, you have to learn anything and everything you can about the people you're trying to lure into investigating your system.
For established franchises, the simplest way to begin is to identify the top franchisees and find things they have in common. You can do this by surveying them, talking to them on the phone, or by simply observing them at an upcoming annual meeting. You can then use what you learn to find more people like them. For example:
If you're struggling to find similarities between your best franchisees, don't despair. By using some basic information about your franchisees, such as names, addresses, and phone numbers, specialized marketing firms can create an in-depth demographic profile of your ideal prospect. You can use this profile to generate highly targeted direct marketing lists or to find advertising channels with similar audience profiles.
When my ol' fisherman friend was looking to catch a big fish, he never would have considered using anything except his best lures. So why in the world would you use a ho-hum, same-as-everyone-else offer to attract franchisees?
Once you know your customer, the next step is to identify what makes your franchise unique. What do you offer that no one else does? What do you do better than any of your competitors? Take that knowledge and shape it to answer to the single most important question all potential franchisees are asking: "What's in it for me?"
If your answer is not clear, compelling, and unique, throw it out. It's simply not going to lure the type of franchisees you want.
Moreover, avoid using words such as "comprehensive," "experienced," "high-quality," and "beloved" in your offer. These words are overused, vague, and as effective for catching potential franchisees as a week-old minnow is for catching fish.
Even with the best bait, the perfect spot, and ideal weather, it can take a while for the fish to bite. The same is true of your marketing.
You've probably heard the old advertising adage that says a consumer needs to encounter your message seven times before they'll remember it. While the metrics might have changed a bit, what still holds true is that you'll be sick of your marketing long before your potential prospect is.
So, hang in there. And remember, in the world of franchising, where a fish could be the size of a whale, catching just one can make the whole effort worthwhile.
Melinda Caughill is Partner, Strategic Marketing at Third Person, Inc., a marketing, advertising, and web design company based in Milwaukee. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 414-221-9810 x302.
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