Franchise development is hard work. If your brand isn’t consistently driving leads to your funnel, you’re already in trouble.
But implementing the right strategy is even more important when targeting potential leads for conversions and add-ons. While the conversion model doesn’t make sense for every franchisor, conversions and add-ons can be an important source of leads for categories like home service and B2B franchise networks.
Many of the strategies for getting start-up franchise leads into your funnel work for conversion leads, but from my experience on the franchise development team at Clockwork Home Services, I can tell you that conversions and add-ons require some extra work. When you’re marketing to existing businesses, you need to appeal to the reasons they started a business in the first place. They’ve poured countless hours and plenty of sweat equity into building their brand, and that brand is likely tied directly to them and their reputation, and sometimes their family name.
Buying a franchise is a huge commitment of time and money for anyone, but recognizing the next-level importance of that same decision for a conversion or add-on is key to adding them to your franchise family instead of your competitors.
It’s also a huge investment for you. The average cost per sale for a franchise is $7,558, and cost per lead is $109, with each sales cycle lasting 12-20 weeks. With that kind of time and money spent, your team needs to generate the best leads possible.
Here are three strategies the best conversion franchises are doing to generate conversion and add-on leads while reducing their cost per franchise sale.
1) Outbound and Inbound Marketing
You’ve probably taken control of the message you send to prospects, but have you taken control of the message they find on their own? Don’t fool yourself — your lead-generation funnel starts long before you send your first mailer or make your first phone call. Many of your prospects die on the vine without you ever knowing their names.
Why? Because your prospects are researching you on their own long before they even talk to your franchise development team. According to RetailDive, 87% of people search online before making purchases of any kind. And according to DemandGen, 47% of B2B buyers viewed three to five pieces of content before speaking with a company rep.
What are your prospects finding there? A spot-on earned and owned media strategy (marketing content and public relations) strategy will ensure that their research makes them want to learn more.
Couple online marketing with a direct outreach campaign like direct mail. Contrary to popular belief, direct mail isn’t dead. In fact, it’s working now better than ever since your prospects are probably inundated with digital marketing. Buy lists of independently owned businesses in your sector and send them meaningful, impactful direct mail.
2) Pick Up the Phone
Online content and direct mail aren’t enough on their own. They have to be part of a more robust strategy that includes a human touch. That means your franchise development team needs to reach out proactively to every lead in a way that builds trust, and the best way to get results is on the phone.
A conversion or add-on lead in particular needs that human connection. They need to feel valued as an established business owner. They need to ask questions of a knowledgeable person within your company. They need so much more than a blog post or a mailer.
Calls have to be part of your development strategy and business metrics. The very best franchise systems know how many calls each franchise development team member needs to make to get a confirmation for Discovery Day attendance. Find that metric for your team and encourage them to meet and exceed it.
3) Get Discovery Day Right
Once you get a prospect to Discovery Day, you have to make it count for every prospect, but especially for conversions or add-ons. When an owner/operator has to take time away from their business to attend Discovery Day, it represents a huge commitment of time and effort. And if they think your Discovery Day isn’t worth it, other prospects will hear about it.
Let Discovery Day be a chance for prospects to develop trust in you. Showcase your leadership and support systems. Develop robust, professional materials that anticipate concerns attendees might have. But most of all, make them glad they took time out of their busy schedules to visit you.
Recipe for Success
If you’re in the business of franchise conversions and add-ons, your marketing strategy can make the difference between cherry-picking the best businesses in your sector and settling for second-best. It takes careful planning, precise messaging and diligent follow-through. You can tackle it in-house, but a public relations agency with plenty of experience in the franchise sector can help you hone the message even further.
Conversion and add-on leads aren’t going to automatically beat a path to your door, but nurturing a relationship with them through proactive marketing and PR can help them find their way.
Heather Ripley is CEO of Ripley PR, a global public relations agency specializing in B2B and franchising. Orange Orchard, a division of Ripley PR, champions franchisors that cater to environmentally-conscious consumers. For additional information, visit www.ripleypr.com or www.orangeorchardpr.com.