The marketing world has seen more changes in the last decade than in the previous 50 years combined. The rise of social media and new online marketing channels have made the battle for leads even more intense, with new methods of lead generation turning almost everything into a marketing message.
With every space saturated with marketing, consumers are adjusting quickly. They start to distrust messages as soon as they see them as advertising, meaning that marketers are switching tactics at a lightning pace, too.
But in my experience, the tried and true marketing methods are still the most reliable. Earned media — features produced by journalists about your brand — is still one of the best ways to reach your franchise prospects. According to Cision, earned media is still viewed by audiences as the most authentic form of marketing.
While it might seem less direct than targeted online ads, earned media is effective at planting the seeds of brand curiosity in potential franchise owners. The right strategy can turn that curiosity into solid, qualified leads for your franchise. Here are a few tips that can get you there.
1. Create a Connection
No matter how small the transaction, people want to feel good about their purchases. Putting out a good product or service isn’t enough. Consumers want to buy from brands that align with their values and lifestyle. And that’s even more important when they’re researching a franchise opportunity.
Facts and figures won’t cut it by themselves. Your prospects want to feel a connection with your brand, and earned media is a great way to create that connection. Media opportunities for your franchise executives and franchise owners can make your brand more desirable, adding a relatable human face and personality to your brand identity.
Start by defining your ideal prospect, and then target media opportunities based on that person’s reading, viewing and listening habits. Just be sure to include your brand’s contact information and a call to action in each interview you gain.
For maximum effect, try to find media opportunities that will reach your ideal prospect, and be sure to include your brand’s contact information and a call to action in every interview you gain.
2. Hone the Message
With a solid franchise public relations strategy, it’s possible to reach leads in all phases of the buyer’s journey, driving them into your lead gen funnel and converting them to qualified prospects.
Stories about your franchisees’ success and growth can get people interested in your brand. These include new store openings, expansions, awards and lists, and even new key hires in your corporate headquarters. They highlight the value proposition of your brand, showing that you are growing and your location owners are building wealth.
Informative interviews and thought-leadership pieces can attract more qualified leads by answering high-level questions. Don’t be afraid to get technical. You’re reaching leads in the research phase of the journey, and they want to know the specifics of what makes your franchise great.
Showcases of high-performing location owners and personality pieces about franchise leadership can seal the deal. These features show prospects that it’s not just possible but also likely that they will succeed with your brand.
3. Share the News
Another advantage of earned media is that it builds your overall brand collateral, giving you content for sharing on social media and blogs. Through these channels, you can boost the piece’s message even further, getting even more mileage and media airtime for your franchise brand.
Building the external links from earned media coverage into your blogs and website can boost SEO, getting your brand higher in Google search results. It also gives you a chance to highlight the best stories for leads who are actively researching your brand.
Encourage your executive leadership and corporate team to share earned media coverage and to be active on social media overall, not just posting but responding and engaging. According to Sprout Social, 70% of consumers feel more connected to brands whose CEOs are active on social media. Let earned media create a talking point for them. The interaction will make them more relatable and attractive to your leads.
Partner with a Pro
Garnering earned media opportunities takes a lot of know-how and a lot of work. You have to develop relationships with journalists and media outlets and tailor story pitches, not just to your franchise goals, but to the publication’s audience. A public relations agency with deep expertise in the franchise space will already have those relationships in place, and they’ll be able to hit the ground running with your message.
An agency can also recommend the best ways to leverage that coverage to achieve your franchise goals. As more people hear, trust and relate to your brand message, you’ll find more qualified leads entering your funnel, setting your brand up for phenomenal growth.
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.