Growing your franchise network – lead generation

Congratulations, you’ve successfully franchised your business! The next step is to build awareness and find prospective franchisees. There are various ways of doing this of course, but quality lead generation should be your primary focus.

What is lead generation?

Lead generation is a crucial marketing strategy used to gather contact details from prospective clients who have expressed an interest in your products and services. It’s essentially a way to turn strangers into customers, but unlike cold calling or unsolicited email marketing, you’ll only be contacting people who’ve already indicated that they want to hear from you. There are many different ways you can generate leads as a franchisor, but let’s take a look at some of the best…

Digital marketing 

In the digital age, every business needs to have a powerful and effective online presence. Here are the key tools you can use to build or enhance your own in order to generate leads. 

SEO

Search Engine Optimisation is used to increase your company’s rankings in search results for specific keywords, and thus generate more organic traffic to your website. Strong rankings offer trust and credibility that you can’t get with paid advertising, and the associated traffic is high converting, but SEO also doesn’t happen overnight so should be thought of as an investment. It’s extremely important for local businesses; if you offer an automotive franchise opportunity in Portsmouth for example, then you want to be sure you’ll appear when someone searches for “automotive franchises in Portsmouth”. If you’re not familiar with SEO practices and link building strategies, consider using a well-established digital marketing agency.

PPC

Pay per click advertising is a great way to generate leads as it allows you to target people who are actively looking for franchise opportunities, or those browsing sites that are topically related to your industry. You only pay when someone actually clicks on an ad, and can easily limit spending through budget management. While the results are not as permanent as with SEO, they are more immediate. No PPC campaign runs optimally straight away though as tweaks and improvements are made based on data acquisition over time. For best results, we therefore recommend having an agency manage your PPC effort.

Social Media

Nearly everyone has a social media profile these days. From a business perspective, you should be using social media to increase awareness, and humanize your brand.  Facebook and Twitter are arguably the most essential platforms for business, but YouTube might be valuable for those working in creative industries or working with anything visually impactful. LinkedIn will also be a useful way for senior members of a franchise to make connections. You can actually use platforms like Facebook and Instagram as part of your PPC effort too, and although they don’t offer the same type of intent-based targeting as Google ads, they can be a great was to generation more cost-effective leads.

Content

Content is something that ties in to both social media and SEO, but is such a powerful resource in the digital world that it deserves to be discussed in its own right. Use your social media accounts to post informative content about industry trends, upcoming events and anything else that’s relevant and interesting.

Quality on-site content is also an essential part of good SEO. Google’s algorithms look for keywords when assessing relevancy and consider the volume and structure of your content when determining the site’s value to a user. Question and answer formats are particularly useful so try and to think about what questions franchisees might have and base your content around the answers. Google will also favor sites that are regularly updated with fresh content so you writing helpful blog posts can be an invaluable part of your content strategy. Through the use of keywords and other SEO practices, you can drive traffic to your blog and encourage them to stick around and potentially invest in your franchise.

Exhibitions

Exhibitions and trade shows are an excellent way to create brand exposure and attract franchisees. Exhibitions like the National Franchise Exhibition, The British and International Franchise Exhibition, and the International Franchise Show London all showcase franchised brands to the public. If you want to generate the right type of leads at an exhibit, avoid the use of spectacle and gimmicks, and focus instead on delivering a strong and consistent brand message.


Many of these events also include workshops and other opportunities for you to make valuable contacts with other people in the industry.

Franchise directories

There are a number of independent directory websites where you can list franchise opportunities alongside your competitors so that prospective franchisees can review and compare. If you have a brand that you think stands head and shoulders above the competition, or you offer a service that has a USP within a given industry, you could easily generate a good number of quality leads for your business. Here are three of the UK’s best-known directories:

Franchise Direct

This franchise directory is one of the most popular and comprehensive in the UK, with franchise listings for virtually any industry you can think of - from accountancy and child care to pest control and sports. You can detail everything potential investors need to know, including costs and what your business expects in a franchisee.

Which Franchise

Which Franchise was created by leading franchising expert Johnny Sellyn, and is the official online partner of the British Franchise Association (BFA). They have been offering information and advice to franchisees for over 20 years, and in addition to the standard profile, you can add resale opportunities and news.

Franchise Supermarket

While younger than the other sites listed, Franchise Supermarket was created and devolved by a team with over 15 years experience in the franchisor sector who like to think of their online directory as ‘the friendly face of franchising’. Potential customers can search based on investments or location. This site is great for anyone looking to fill a specific market gap.

Other options

While the 3 directories above are the most well-known, there are a definitely others worth considering. Here at Start Your New Franchise for example, we offer franchisors access to an untapped audience. Whereas other directories are for those looking for a franchise opportunity specifically, we use career portals to reach people looking for new opportunities in general. Most of our visitors arrive with fewer preconceptions about what they’re looking for and so are likely to consider a wider range of franchise options across multiple industries. Contact us today for more info.

Conclusion

These are just some of the ways you can attract people to you business and generate leads. For the best results, we recommend franchise owners use an integrated approach as each avenue has its own advantages. 

Look out for part 2 of our series on lead generation where we’ll be talking about how to actually turn your leads into customers.

 

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