The Role of Video in Franchise Development Digital Marketing
The power of video in franchise development digital marketing cannot be understated.
By John Green
Even amid all other media disruptors today, video stands alone in its ability to connect with franchisee candidates. To drive this point home, according to Forbes, 59 percent of executives would rather watch video than read text. And, we all know that many of the candidates you are seeking are current executives already running franchise operations or are individuals who have previous work experience in leadership roles, be it in corporate America or service industries. Video is the most personal way a franchise can communicate with its prospects, short of live conversation. As such, it is a strong platform for informing and educating franchisee candidates who don’t often make themselves available for live conversation during their due diligence process. Thus, take advantage of video. The cost of producing high-quality content has decreased remarkably with advancements in digital cameras and digital editing software. This means it is more possible than ever before to produce content in- house in a relatively short amount of time. And, as you consider all of your brand’s digital marketing channels — websites, e-mail, social, blogs — you have a variety of outlets to run the videos, making video even more valuable. Plus, video has the distinct benefit of amplifying your search engine optimization efforts. Almost 70 percent of all organic search requests are answered with a list of videos, and videos appear as many of the top items on the first page of results. If your competitors are not using video, now is the time to add video to your digital marketing efforts; it is a proven method of leaping ahead. Here are three ways you can use video to tighten the bond with your franchisee candidates: Franchisee testimonials/using video to highlight the value proposition of your franchise investment. Video tours/”a-Day-in-the-Life.” Educating your candidates with videos. Consider this as you read what is ahead. Video is increasingly becoming the preferred method of consuming information online. In fact, video traffic is expected to be 69 percent of all Internet traffic by 2017, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index.
Matco Tools places an emphasis on leveraging video to capture insights from our franchisees about their experiences with ownership in our franchise. Our franchise development website is peppered with videos on several pages, many of which feature franchisee testimonials. Why have we gone to video in such an aggressive way? The answer is one word: validation. No other endorsement for our franchise is more powerful than hearing the benefits of it from an existing franchisee. And, video offers a level of authenticity that text and graphics cannot. After all, while you may believe your franchise opportunity cannot be beat, can you demonstrate in a compelling way that your franchisees feel the same? Let’s compare the power of video to the coveted annual franchise rankings and franchise system review/survey services. The reason franchise rankings and review services are so sought after is that they present real stories about franchisee experiences and feedback, which carry a lot more weight than what a company has to say about itself. Video takes the rankings and reviews to a new level, adding a personal touch and transparency that lists and rankings cannot offer. A word to the wise: when producing the video testimonials, guide your franchisees to be concise and focused on a specific point. Vagueness and rambling doesn’t work, rather, remaining on topic will keep your viewers’ attention. The questions presented to the franchisee can greatly assist with this. As an example, a restaurant franchisor could ask: “How has the operational support you’ve received from the franchisor improved your restaurant’s performance? What do you think of the new menu rollouts led by the franchisor? Why would you recommend this investment to other interested franchisees?” Additionally, distinct brand differentiators are great items to focus on with testimonials. When considering where and how to begin using the testimonials, you should look no further than the digital assets you have in place. Once you see how your audience responds, you can consider other channels. But, initially, the recommended digital places to showcase the testimonials are your website (both pre-franchisee candidate approval pages, as well as once they’ve been approved to continue the discovery process, often on e-brochures), social media platforms, in email signatures, franchise development email drip campaigns and franchise development blogs. Franchisee candidates watching testimonials that are honest representations of positive franchisee sentiments will increase the perception that you and your brand are being trustworthy. As a result, more prospects will be more likely to move along the discovery process and remain engaged with your efforts to close the franchise sale.
Video Tours/A Day in the Life
Words and photos alone can’t capture the sites, sounds and excitement of your franchise the way video can grab hold of these attributes. Leverage these innate qualities in your digital marketing to show, and tell, your candidates the uniqueness of your concept. Ways to accomplish this are through video tours of a typical franchise location and through a “Day in the Life” of a franchisee video. While you may be wondering where to start — with a video tour or a “Day in the Life” video? Here is the answer: Start with the stumbling blocks that are preventing potential franchisees from moving along the discovery path or crossing the finish line. The video should help defuse any confusion or concerns commonly heard from candidates. And, as you decide which video is left on the editing floor, ask yourself, “Do the footage and interviews reflect the professionalism, brand image and investment opportunity of the concept?”
Educating Your Candidates
There is little doubt that franchisee candidates prefer a softer sell — more of an educational approach than an aggressive, hard sell. Yet, drawing in candidates and pushing them along the sales process requires a well-defined strategy. Franchise sales executives can turn to videos to strike this balance. One recommendation: choose a series of documentary-style videos showcasing your franchisees working the business, leading their employees, getting involved with their communities and collaborating with headquarters support staff. Another option for your educational-style video is to utilize animated videos that present your franchise opportunity in an entertaining, yet educational manner. Get creative and demonstrate a clear differentiation in your concept, so you can put a spotlight on the competitive advantages of your brand while remaining in soft-sell mode. You can use free or inexpensive animation software like PowToon or GoAnimate. With vibrant characters, awe-inspiring imagery and moving text, animated education videos command attention and inspire beyond inanimate PowerPoint presentations.
Parting Thoughts on Video
When it comes to the length of your videos, three to five minutes is ideal. Anything longer will not maintain your candidates’ attention. Importantly, research shows that if you can keep your audience’s attention during the video, individuals are more likely to fill out a contact/information request form. The reason is that they have observed the brand in action and have built a more trusting relationship, and are now more likely to head toward becoming a franchisee.
John Green is vice president of marketing and ecommerce at Matco Tools, the Stow, Ohio-based premium automotive tools, storage and equipment franchise with a network of more than 1,500 mobile distributors. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.