This past spring, I had the pleasure of taking part in one of my favorite hobbies – fishing. I have, for most of my life, enjoyed fishing. Fresh water, saltwater, good weather, bad, you name it! Yet even when I’m fishing, some of my thoughts turn to franchising. Recently, I thought about the similarities between fishing and franchise marketing. So, pardon the puns, but let me offer the following:
Attracting the best franchise candidates is a whole different kettle of fish than attracting consumers to your brand. Franchise marketing requires you to develop a marketing plan and use new skills beyond the ones that made your original concept a success.
Consider the right “bait” for marketing your franchise system. As a franchisor, you are selling a brand, a system, training, support, and a tackle-box full of benefits.
To this end, traditional consumer marketing materials will not suffice. You need to use a different kind of bait. You want your franchise prospects to know you are committed to providing the services and support to help them succeed as business owners. Also consider others who will be looking at these materials – spouses, partners, lenders, lawyers, landlords and other secondary influencers. This calls for a level of sophistication and messaging that may not be necessary in consumer materials.
Plan to support the franchise message in all aspects of your marketing: brochure copy, website content, social content, video, testimonials, and pictures.
Your franchise marketing all begins with a strategic plan. You have to know where your prospects will be, what bait they will take, and how that bait should be presented. But before you develop your plan, you need to understand exactly which fish will be the “keepers.” In building a successful franchise network, it is not a good idea to haul just anyone into your boat. Be selective.
In developing your plan, the most important step is to understand who your prospect is, why they will buy, and where you can find them.
It’s not enough to simply drop your line and sit back to admire the view. If you are selling only to experienced multi-unit developers, the message will need to accommodate the sensibilities of sophisticated businesspeople. On the other hand, if you think your franchisees will likely be first-time business owners, you will need to anticipate the typical concerns of a new business owner (e.g. "What kinds of start-up assistance can I expect to receive?" "How do I know if there’s a market for this product or service?")
And while it may take more casts to find those few fish worth keeping, focusing with intention on your target will likely net you the best results.