While some franchisors seem to be continuing their winter hibernation,
smart companies know that this is the time for bold, positive action.
Disillusionment with the stock market, with the improprieties of
America's upper management and a national air of uncertainty has
created legions of corporate executives and others who yearn for
more: More freedom. More family time. More control over their destinies.
And more fulfillment than they can ever achieve working for someone
It Starts with the Story
So how do you go about creating the marketing pieces that will
jumpstart your franchise sales efforts? It starts with the story.
You need to create a powerful brand story that is compelling on
both an emotional and logical level. It must both inspire and motivate
the prospect to action, as well as answer questions such as 'What
do I get for my money?' and 'Why do I need you?'
Once the story is crafted, it should be communicated consistently
through a number of essential methods, including:
The franchise brochure
Despite living in the digital age, the franchise brochure still
remains the undisputed king of franchise marketing materials and
the one absolute essential. Not only does the franchise prospect
pour over every inch of it, this brochure will be scrutinized by
their spouses, lawyers, accountants, landlords, investors and their
know-it-all brother-in-law Jerry. And forget the cheapo folder with
the chopped-up inserts. Go four-color with quality copy and design
by a company that knows franchising, use excellent photography and
printing stock. Good brochures can cost $4 - $5 per piece in quantity,
but are well worth the price. Consider a printshop with digital
printing capabilities, if you prefer a shorter print run (under
The "mini-me" of franchise marketing, print a tri-fold
rack brochure for use as trade show handout, direct mailer, or in-store
promotion. Printed in quantity, a four-color mini brochure can be
produced for as little as 30 cents per piece, making it much more
economical than its big brother.
The web site
The obvious digital essential, the franchise web site is part franchise
advertisement and part promotional material. Its purpose is both
to generate franchise leads and to promote the franchise to people
who already know of the opportunity. A good web site is the cost
of entry these days - franchisors without a professional looking
web site will lack credibility. A tip: do not provide too much detailed
information on your web site unless you require the prospect to
provide contact information to view it. Your goal is to prompt contact
and harvest leads, not answer every question.
The franchise e-brochure
Often designed in a Flash format, e-brochures are about the same
size and dimensions as a standard business card and are designed
to run in the CD-ROM or DVD drive of most computers. The message
can be compelling and can even include video clips and voice-over
narration. Production costs of under a dollar per piece make them
an economical way to deliver a tremendous amount of information
in a small package, but they have the disadvantage of requiring
a computer in order to deliver that message. E-brochures can double
as a franchisor's web site, and can even require some data capture
in order to access them. Some franchisors will even use these e-brochures
as e-mail attachments for more immediacy. Not an essential, but
a strong piece that demonstrates that you are state-of-the-art.
E-mail response messages
The Internet can create a massive amount of unqualified leads to
sift through. To solve this problem, we recommend a system of customized
auto-responding follow-up e-mail messages that encourage interested
prospects and filter out unqualified inquiries without wasting valuable
staff time. The appropriateness of this strategy varies from franchisor
The franchise sales videotape
An 8-10 minute, professionally produced franchise sales videotape
is hard to beat for effectiveness. With sound, music, narration
and vivid videography, a quality video draws the prospect into the
franchise experience like no other medium. It is also great for
Discovery Day and group presentations, for sending to distant prospects
and enables you to deploy the most powerful secret weapon of franchise
sales: enthusiastic testimonials from happy, successful franchisees.
And from a production standpoint, the development of this video
allows an easy transition to the e-brochure, which is less expensive
than the $3 per piece cost, per tape.
The difference between franchise and consumer marketing
The other day, I saw a beautiful brochure from a hair salon franchise
- glossy finish, heavy stock, full bleed four-color photos. And
on the cover, there was a photo of a pristine salon in operation:
three barbers standing shoulder-to-shoulder, just waiting for me
to get my hair cut. As a consumer, I was thrilled. I could simply
walk right up in this immaculate operation and in minutes have one
of these three barbers cutting my hair - no waiting!
But this brochure illustrated the franchisee's worst nightmare!
What if I open this business and nobody comes? The prospect,
at least subliminally, is thinking, I am paying those three barbers.
And there is no one in those chairs. When creating marketing materials,
franchisees want to see the fur flying. Consumers in the chairs.
Cash changing hands. Marketing to prospective franchisees is very
different than consumer marketing.
Also unlike most consumer marketing, franchise marketing is sometimes
subject to legal constraints as well. Nine states (CA, IL, MD, MN,
NY, ND, RI, SD, WA) require ad copy be approved by state agencies,
and they may not let a franchisor get away with language that most
consumer marketers would use without hesitation. Basic terms like
"success" and "profit" may not pass muster with
state regulators and will probably raise an eyebrow or two from
the attorneys - so franchise marketing materials must always be
designed with the lawyers in mind. In fact, we always recommend
that franchise marketing materials be reviewed by your lawyers prior
to their printing or use.
On a related subject, since your marketing materials must be consistent
with the information contained in the UFOC, changes in the franchise
offering will dictate changes in your marketing materials. Given
the expense of printing brochures or producing videotapes, it is
imperative that these materials are developed to be timeless.
Brochures should avoid discussion of material contract terms or
costs that may be subject to change. Instead, this information should
be contained in separate inserts that are often contained in a dye-cut
pocket. And in all your materials, avoid references to dates, numbers
of units, or events with a specific reference in time.
In short, savvy franchisors recognize that it's boom time for franchising.
They are putting a fresh coat of paint on their concepts, rallying
their troops, and boldly communicating their optimism and excitement.
They're producing fresh corporate marketing materials, and getting
them into the right people's hands.
First Published in Franchising World. All reprint rights reserved
by the author.