B2B franchises aren’t known as the most visible brands. In some ways, professional services can run under the radar in a world crowded with consumer-facing businesses. Without the widespread visibility that a B2C brand generates, there can be a misconception that B2B franchise brands don’t really benefit from public relations. That is far from the truth.
So, how can a B2B franchise brand use PR effectively? Like all franchise networks, when developing messaging, B2B brands must consider two different audiences: potential location owners and the very real business customers of existing locations. Let’s talk about the ways that PR strategies can be tailored to target both groups.
For Franchise Development
We are a species that loves stories, and a strong public relations strategy capitalizes on telling persuasive stories about your franchise brand. In this case, those stories are aimed at your target demographic. When a professional looking for a career change reads about your brand, they want to read a story about the power of your value proposition, about being able to position themselves for a financially secure future, or about the positive experiences of your location owners.
These stories accumulate, generating visibility and awareness for your B2B franchise brand with potential location owners. There is also a very important consideration: If you don’t tell your story through PR, someone else will — through online reviews or word of mouth — or nobody will. And, the latter definitely doesn’t generate leads.
When developing a PR plan to grow your franchise brand, be sure to focus on the stories that interest the people you want to recruit. These are stories about your franchise owners, the value they receive, and what they are able to achieve in business and personal success as part of your brand.
It’s important to keep your name out there through stories in trade and franchising publications, podcast interviews, and appearances on regional and national television programs. By ensuring that prospects are exposed to your message through these channels, it will build awareness and familiarity of your business and its accomplishments. It preemptively breaks the ice, rather than continually having to reintroduce your brand and what it represents.
And, PR is useful, too, in building the reputation of franchise brands in preparation of an eventual acquisition. The more visibility you generate, the more your success stories are told and the more people who hear them, the greater the chance that you’ll catch the eye of investors or a larger brand looking to expand.
For Promoting Franchisees
In the long run, franchisor success depends on the success of franchisees. The strongest brands invest in their owners, providing support and coaching and marketing assistance. Public relations can be employed to the benefit of the individual location owners, as well.
B2B franchise location owners depend on a much smaller pool of potential leads than their B2C counterparts. As such, they have to concentrate on networking and building long-term relationships with their customers. It can be a slow process from making an initial contact with a prospective customer to closing the deal.
Consider public relations a way to help location owners build up their own brand recognition in their communities by help them earn media coverage in local newspapers and business magazines or through interviews on local TV news programs as subject matter experts. Help them establish their reputations and civic-minded business leaders by promoting their good works in the community.
Overall, promoting both the national brand and individual franchisees probably sounds like a lot of work. It’s true that developing and implementing the right B2B franchise public relations strategy requires a significant investment of time and attention, but it doesn’t have to be done alone. By working with a public relations agency that understands both the challenges of B2B marketing and the franchise industry, your corporate team can stay focused on building the brand while leaving the implementation to the PR partner.
Stories to Tell
In the end, there should be no barrier preventing a B2B franchise brand from putting strategic public relations successfully to work. Telling the stories of your brand and raising its visibility means finding more potential leads and, as it grows, the eventual possibility of a profitable acquisition. Keeping the focus on the right narratives through PR will benefit you in the long run.
Heather Ripley is founder and CEO of Ripley PR, an elite, global public relations agency specializing in franchise. Ripley PR has been recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as a Top Franchise PR Agency three years in a row and was named to Forbes’ America’s Best PR Agencies for 2021. She is the author of “NEXT LEVEL NOW: PR Secrets to Drive Explosive Growth for your Home Service Business.” For additional information, visit www.ripleypr.com.