Set your business up for Q1 franchise development success

Sponsored content by Reshift Media.

Top franchise systems typically generate a high number of franchisee leads in January, February and March. Interest in franchising is high during the first quarter, which creates a surge in people researching franchise opportunities using social media, Google and other digital properties. If you are looking to grow your franchise system, there is no better time to launch a digital marketing campaign to fill your lead pipeline.

The first step in a strong digital marketing plan is making sure that you can be found online when someone is actively looking for a franchise opportunity. The best thing about search is that people are explicitly telling you what they are interested in. For example, when someone searches “buy a restaurant franchise,” you can be certain that they are interested in a restaurant franchise, and the nature of the search suggests they are past the “tire kicking” stage.

To ensure people can find your company, making your website SEO-friendly should be your top priority. When done well, a franchise company’s website should become the top source of franchise leads. This typically includes a combination of a well-built website and SEO-friendly franchise content specific to your industry.

In addition to making your site search-friendly, most franchise systems augment their lead flow with search engine advertising. This ensures your company shows up in the search results for high-value terms. When employing a paid search approach, we typically recommend against bidding on broad search terms such as “franchise opportunities” or “buy a franchise.” Although these (and similar terms) seem like good opportunities, in reality they are usually the most expensive and lowest performing terms. This is because they are purchased by many franchisors, so they tend to be over-priced. The other issue is that because the terms are vague, the person may have no interest in your industry. You are better off buying terms such as “restaurant franchise opportunities” or “buy a pet franchise.” These terms will cost less and will be more likely to get you in front of people who are interested in your company.

Because search often occurs when people have made up their mind on their preferred industry/company, smart franchise systems also employ outbound marketing to reach people before they get to that stage. In this context, “outbound marketing” involves using social media, display, or other forms of advertising to reach people who may be interested in a franchise opportunity but aren’t necessarily at the decision-making stage as yet. Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn enable you to introduce your brand to prospective franchisees when they are still early in their decision-making. However, as people often aren’t at the purchase stage, we find it is best to avoid the “hard sell” at this point. Instead, provide people with useful information to help them make their decision.

The last step is to tie it all together with retargeting. Retargeting involves showing advertising to people who have previously expressed interest in your company. Typical ways of “expressing interest” could include the person visiting your website, clicking an ad, downloading a whitepaper or watching a video. With the right setup, you can create an environment where prospective franchisees are seeing your brand multiple times on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and other platforms, which creates an effect that “this company is everywhere, they must be a big deal!” When in reality, you have micro-targeted a specific audience for a very reasonable budget.

Kirk Allen is Co-Founder and COO at Reshift Media, an award-winning franchise digital marketing agency. Reshift Media has worked with more than 200 brands in 20 countries on social media, search, software and website/mobile development projects. Please visit to learn more.