Not All Franchise Brands Shine

How strategic messaging can spur growth for a business services franchise

Driving down a bustling city street, it’s easy to identify businesses that are part of large franchise systems. There’s McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King and KFC, to name a few; not to mention Ace Hardware, Anytime Fitness, SportClips, and Jiffy Lube in the non-restaurant franchise sector; but what about the others? What about the franchises that make up a good majority of the industry, that most average consumers aren’t even aware of?

Many of these business concepts fall into a different franchise category, frequently identified as business services. They include anything from commercial cleaning, office suppliers, small business tax providers, and a whole lot more. While these business service companies play a critical role in the franchise industry, and frankly the small business landscape as a whole, they often fall victim to characterizations that don’t justify the importance they play in the American economy.

Sure, it’s easy to see why a franchisee prospect may be dazzled by the glitz and glamour of a distinguished restaurant franchise, but in reality, those lesser known business services franchises have just as much to offer, if not more than any other in the industry.

Engaging an Online Audience

Nearly two billion worldwide have a social media profile, with those users and platforms having many different and unique purposes. Twitter is a place to acquire quick snapshots of information; Facebook uses sharing options and video publication to connect members; and LinkedIn connects professionals to those with like-minded interests.

In order for business services franchises to connect with social media users, no matter the platform, they need to create thoughtful content. By developing messaging that is valuable to those users, a brand positions itself as a leader in the industry, despite its size or recognition. But, this isn’t unique to business services — this is a marketing tactic used by nearly every franchise concept.

What sets business services franchise concepts apart is the ability to boast a typically low investment-to-return ratio. Rarely do restaurant investments teeter below the $1 million mark – acknowledging too that’s on the low end of the scale — while business services franchises seldom exceed that investment. Of course, return on investment depends on a number of other variables, but just recognizing the vast difference between initial investment and capitalizing on that message, business services franchises have a marketing advantage to those high-cost, high-profile competitors.

These messages must also be mirrored on a franchise recruiting website. If a franchisee prospect is attracted to a particular type of messaging — like financial performance indicators — through social media advertising, they’ll expect the same from the franchise website. The trick is getting them to spend quality time dissecting the information on a website and converting into a franchise lead. 

Capturing the Mind of the Media

While a well-developed public relations campaign won’t directly relate to lead generation for a business services franchise, public awareness and brand recognition will. Public relations is a lead influencer, and as such, plays a significant role in attracting franchisee prospects. With hundreds of franchise concepts in the United States alone, a brand’s ability to set itself apart with its unique selling proposition is critical.

For business services franchises without the pizazz of a well-known and acclaimed franchise system, self-promotion and brand building becomes a hard-fought process requiring patience, creativity and dedication — all ingredients of a great PR campaign.

Developing an influential campaign, however, is easier said than done, especially for the emerging business services franchise. And, it’s important to acknowledge that there is a significant difference between a franchisee prospect and a media influencer. While the prospect can be attracted to a particular franchise concept because of financial performance data, a reporter will throw that information into the pile of “things they don’t care about.” Instead, recognize that it’s not a reporter’s job to promote a particular business or service, and make the outreach effort about how they will benefit from writing about the proposed subject.

Accomplishing any level of media attention can stem from developing a comprehensive industry report or white-paper that analyzes an industry as a whole, instead of one company’s particular success or failures. Overly promotional material is about as useful to a reporter as disappearing ink.

While there are a variety of other ways a business services franchise can generate interest from prospective franchisees, nothing dominates quite like a polished marketing message. There’s no reason a business services franchise should get any less of the limelight than that of a popular restaurant or clothing store, and when the right messages reach the right people, they’ll listen.

Matthew Jonas is the president of TopFire Media, an award winning, integrated public relations and digital marketing agency specializing in franchise marketing and consumer branding. Together with the leaders of iFranchise Group and Franchise Dynamics, Matthew established TopFire Media to provide a strategic and synchronized method for digital marketing in the franchise industry. As a digital marketing strategist with over a decade of in-depth experience in SEO and PPC, social media publishing, conversion-based marketing, inbound marketing, sales management, and online lead generation, Matthew has built a career dedicated to delivering an integrated marketing approach that achieves client success and long-term relationships.

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