With an Honest Brand Narrative, Franchisors can Create an Emotional Connection with Prospective Franchisees
Franchisors often miss the mark when it comes to messaging, says Lauren Moore, Vice President of Client Services at BizCom Associates. Every brand has news and stories to share, but franchisors don’t always know how to best communicate them. While franchisors are usually good about sharing the benefits of their brands, they often overlook a much more impactful way to reach prospective franchisees: through storytelling. Telling stories about people, like the leadership team, franchisees, employees, and customers, is an intriguing and engaging way to show what a brand is all about. “When you think about it, everyone loves a great story, and every brand has them,” Moore says. “Storytelling creates powerful images and paints pictures we can relate to.”
Stories have been proven to engage, influence, and attract. Harvard Business Publishing reports that chemicals like cortisol, dopamine and oxytocin are released in the brain after hearing a story. Those chemicals help us retain information, connect emotionally and experience empathy. But even without scientific evidence, most people understand the benefits of storytelling. “Good stories are memorable, relatable, and much more engaging than a sales pitch or a presentation,” Moore adds.
Franchisors can leverage the power of storytelling to effectively influence potential candidates without selling to them. “When you learn about someone else’s success, it becomes relatable. It makes you think, ‘if he can do it, so can I.’ Franchisors who don’t use the power of storytelling are missing out,” Moore says.
Franchise PR and Storytelling
BizCom’s mission statement conveys the team’s passion for storytelling: To share the world’s most inspiring stories. Named the Best PR Agency of 2023 in the Global Franchise Awards, the firm prides itself on its authentic approach to franchise PR through simple honesty. “Truth builds trust between brands and consumers. True stories are already compelling on their own. They don’t need spin,” Moore says.
Not only are stories more memorable, but they bring brand credibility and spark curiosity.
Moore recently led several roundtable discussions at leading franchise events, including the International Franchise Association’s Annual Convention and Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Selling Franchises Bootcamp. She found that franchisors want to tell their stories but don’t always know how. “Franchisors should shift the spotlight onto the people who make up the brand rather than the numbers of units sold or key performance indicators. Not only are stories more memorable, but they bring brand credibility and spark curiosity,” she says.
Moore and her team often use techniques that go beyond traditional PR when telling a franchise brand’s story. She points out that while they are all useful, some tactics work better depending on different factors. “The brand’s culture, size, stage of growth and its customer are all considerations in how and where you tell your story,” she says.
Here, Moore offers several storytelling strategies and best practices used in franchise PR.
Newsjacking: This strategy leverages news stories to generate media coverage and social media engagement. Newsjacking could be used with any timely topic, such as unemployment. For example, a story can show how a franchisee created job opportunities in his local community. “This story can tie into unemployment statistics but also create a memorable, feel-good picture of the brand,” Moore says.
A natural disaster like a hurricane could spark several human interest stories. For example, a restoration franchise could feature a franchisee who helped families clean up after a flood. Other franchise brands can tie into the same hurricane story by showing how local franchisees raised money or provided needed supplies for victims.
Calendar tie-ins: Franchisors can easily find creative ways to tie holidays into their stories. Around Mother’s Day, brands can feature Mother-daughter franchisee teams, for example. For Veteran’s Day, a veteran who found a new path through franchising after the military makes a great story. The possibilities are endless. There are tons of holidays, plus special days like Earth Day and Election Day, that can spark great ideas for content.
Demo targeting: Franchisors should understand their ideal candidate and know where to find them. Do they spend more time on social media or surfing the web? Moore suggests focusing efforts where it makes sense. According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials get their news from social media, while Baby Boomers prefer traditional news media like newspapers and TV. Targeting the right audience with the right content makes all the difference.
Authenticity in Storytelling
Storytelling is a powerful communication tool in franchise PR, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or overdone, Moore advises. A simple, relatable story is more likely to be remembered than one that’s ambiguous or obscure. Most importantly, she says that honesty is the most important aspect of storytelling. “Authenticity and integrity win every time,” she says.
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