LEVERAGING Your Digital Content Marketing to Nurture Your Leads
Stop the pushy sales lingo and let your branded digital content carry the conversation.
By Jamie Izaks
Every qualified franchise lead needs a warm embrace, to be coddled, nourished and ultimately nurtured to close the deal. But, the lead will go silent if the approach employed repels rather than provides a thrust to get over the finish line. Implementing a comprehensive digital-content marketing strategy offers a systematic campaign to carry leads through the sales cycle. It strengthens validation of your concept while achieving two key franchise sales and marketing objectives: Promises strong return on investment through cost-effective push-and-pull digital marketing in which you have complete management of messaging and branding, yet in a more objective manner than most other elements of the marketing mix. Candidates gain easier access to the content they desire in their discovery and due diligence processes with more digital content available at their fingertips. Similar to a great business suit, content marketing strikes the perfect balance of form and function. As you consider taking advantage of this franchise sales and marketing discipline, which is poised to gain greater adoption throughout the industry, here are five ways to leverage digital content to propel your growth strategy and get deals done.
Be Persistent with Your Franchise Sales Blog
Dedicate a blog to franchise sales only. At least a few times a month, write and publish on the blog original writings that are intended to boost franchise sales search engine optimization and provide content that your candidates can review to increase their interest in the franchise opportunity. Topics for the blog can include:
- Profiling an existing franchisee who reflects the ideal candidate for your concept,
- A discussion on your targeted franchise growth markets, and
- Recapping publicity that is hot off the presses.
Once written and posted to the blog, make sure to merchandise your entries. A few ways to do this would be to post links to them on your franchise development social media pages and to email them to prospects in your development pipeline.
Educate, Inform and Re-Engage Leads with Content-Rich Email Drip Campaigns
Content-rich emails are another proven method for nurturing leads at all stages of the franchise sales cycle. Whether leads have gone silent or continued to progress, you have content at your disposal that can push the candidate toward becoming a franchisee. Keep in mind, presentation and writing style are key considerations. As part of effective content marketing efforts, content enriched branded emails share great news coverage, franchise development blog entries, press releases, case studies and testimonials in a manner that strikes the right balance between being educational, informative and promotional. The intention of the email campaign is to consistently show momentum. The emails are a subtle call to action that motivate and inspire leads by drawing them into a movement (your brand) that they can no longer resist. Your franchise development customer relationship management systems typically have the functionality to import or design HTML email and plain text templates and disseminate them to your leads. It is highly recommended that you customize emails to your lists to fit the current stage where the individual lead is in the franchise sales cycle. Keep in mind that the frequency of emails should be limited to one or two per month; be picky about the content you choose to communicate.
Capture Your Franchisee Success Stories in Case Studies
Each week you should celebrate successes in your franchise system. Franchisees reach new revenue goals, set new grand opening records, franchisee-families grow multi-generational businesses, military veterans’ transition into business ownership — the storylines hopefully don’t end there. Recounting these moments of accomplishment through franchise development case studies is a proven method for helping franchisee candidates see themselves in business ownership with your concept. Some “must-dos” for case studies include:
- Career journey to franchise ownership,
- Benefit of being a franchisee,
- I love this franchise because …,
- My shining moment as a franchisee has been …, and
- Franchisee testimonials.
The case studies can be presented in your franchise development blog, on your social channels and emailed as part of your enriched content email drip campaign.
Nothing Tells a Story Like Video
All elements of content marketing should include video. Your franchise sales blog, your content enriched emails, target market landing pages and even your case studies, are all great places to embed video. The remarkable opportunity that video presents now comes as the cost-benefit ratio is increasingly becoming more attractive to businesses of all sizes. Affordable high-definition digital cameras and editing software have made producing professional style videos more practical than ever before. Here are three great ways for franchise businesses to leverage the power of video in your digital content marketing strategy:
- Capture the excitement and energy of your annual convention and produce a two-minute sizzle reel.
- Interview franchisees and vendor partners on camera and produce short sound bite vignettes on topics such as franchisee support, work-life balance, customer loyalty and brand differentiators.
- Produce a fast-paced media highlights reel with the content you have from press placements, press releases and other branded marketing materials — a great way to demonstrate the momentum behind the concept.
Don’t Let Bad Reviews Linger
The review website component of content marketing aims to populate your claimed pages on Yelp and similar sites with brand descriptors, imagery and other relevant content that should be consistent across your system. Maintaining brand consistency on review sites is critical, given that many of your franchisee candidates are researching the brand in every way. However, the most important reason to stay active on this digital platform is because potential franchisees turn to review websites to see how consumers are talking about your brand. By claiming ownership of existing pages on sites such as Yelp, or launching new pages on the review sites, you are taming a potential wildcard in the franchise recruitment process. Your franchise’s reputation is counting on it. Lastly, if you are extremely confident in your reviews and have actively managed the pages, link to the review sites from your franchise development website or even your email signature. Content marketing closes the loop on every aspect of an integrated digital marketing campaign that aims to drive franchise leads — bridging PR, social media, SEO campaigns, websites, blogs and more. It truly is a great way to get more mileage out of all of your marketing tactics. Taking advantage of the benefits of content marketing can be the key to conversion, helping candidates through the buying cycle. Assemble a treasure chest of content marketing tactics and take aim at your franchise leads. Without a doubt, the avenues to take digital content marketing can be overwhelming, but by following the five suggested paths described here, you are well on your way to getting the most out of the resources you dedicate to it.
Jamie Izaks is president of All Points Public Relations, a Chicago-based integrated public relations firm that specializes in working with franchises. Izaks is a member of IFA’s Marketing and Technology Committee. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.