Q+A with Brand J Web Developer, Angela Moore

The Secrets of Franchise Web Development

Often the hardest role to fill in any digital advertising team, the web developer makes up the bones that keep the body moving. Your web developer does more than just build websites, they maintain all things websites and keep them running optimally, so that all lead generation efforts work in tandem with a website. Learn about the importance of a web developer, why the role is so unique, and how franchise web development is different in this eye-opening interview with the Brand J Web Developer, Angela Moore.

web development

How long have you worked in web development, and what is your favorite part of web development?

Moore: I have worked in web development for over 8 years, holding different positions. I have been the lead web developer for Brand J for nearly 2 years now, and have launched a decent number of amazing websites.

When the concept of design used in the mockup phase starts to become noticeable and interactive within the staging phase, that is my favorite part of web development. Transitioning what was in the design to fully become a website is the challenge I take when developing a website, and I enjoy learning more as the technology used rapidly changes in the process.

How does web development for franchise development differ from other industries?

Moore: Web development in franchise development, or franchise marketing, differs in that lead generation is the top priority. Best practices of general web development are still needed, of course. These websites must integrate with the CRM so that the lead process has a smooth flow, and also have multiple places for CTAs or lead forms to be visible. The goal is to make it as easy and quick as possible for someone who is interested to begin the process towards connecting with the brand, so this is always paramount when we start a new web project, or revisit older projects to refresh.

Why do you think it is difficult to find the right developer for a marketing team?

Moore: I think it is difficult, because just like every marketing team is different, so are the developers. One may be more front-end focused, and this is great if the team would need them to work closely together with the designer or take on some design tasks. Another may be less able to assist with design tasks, but can expertly cover programming work, domain, and server tasks on the backend. Having a developer who knows both can be a great thing, but it depends on the team needs as well. The right developer really depends on the needs of the team, and if they can communicate and work well with others on the team.

What are the common challenges in fran dev web development?

Moore: It is challenging to work with various website and analytics related technologies. It takes learning what works well together and finding if they are all compatible, which can be a challenge to test and learn. Through testing and review that has been overcome, even as it is an ongoing process as we seek to stay current. I’m proud of our web development toolbox built up of the web development related technologies we use when building sites.

What is important for team leaders to know to help your web developer thrive?

Moore: It’s important for team leaders to share the main goal or purpose behind certain development tasks or projects. A list of tasks can be shared, but knowing a summary of what the client hopes to gain will help your developer as they complete them. And while we do find achievement in completing tasks, any positive feedback from the client that the team leader can pass on is valuable as well. Although web developers are often known for being a powerful behind-the-scenes entity that only appears when things break, like any working relationship, communication is key. Communicating client goals when starting a project or task helps mitigate confusion when we retreat to our corners of web development to get things done.

What trends do you see in fran dev web development, and how do you see them shaping the future?

Moore: One trend that has stayed relevant for some time is video. A background and a key brand story video are great ways to get the attention of site visitors. These elements also show as well as tell the story of the brand, and paired well with the key points of SEO driven content on page, help make the first page of a website eye-catching and quickly show visitors what they need to know.

I also see compliance as a trend, both in cookie tracking and ADA. While it does not yet impact all states in the United States, as more laws related to privacy online are passed, more cookie banners or form disclaimers will be seen across sites. ADA compliance is also gaining more attention. Sites need to be viewable and able to be understood by all users, and regulations relating to that are increasing as well.

How Can Brand J Help Your Brand?

Looking for a new franchise website? In need of developer changes to your existing website? Maybe you just want to discuss options of how we can improve your franchise development site? Whatever your wants and needs may be, Brand J is eager to hear them all. Fill out our form here to start a conversation with our team about what we can do for your brand today.

Franchise Video Marketing with Dan Wiley

Showcasing the Story behind the Brand with Dan Wiley

When it comes to engaging video content, Brand J has been leading the charge with our secret weapon: Dan Wiley. Since 2019, Dan has been showcasing his mastery of video skills with a focus on franchise development, telling the story of countless franchise brands. After years of showcasing the story behind a brand, Dan is stepping into the spotlight to share his expertise, as well as what is trending in franchise video marketing.

franchise video marketing dan wiley

What types of videos have the best exposure, and why?

Wiley: When an entrepreneur is exploring your brand for their next (or first) franchise business, they’ll do whatever they can to discover the truth about how it will impact their life and their family. The best thing that you can do to win the attention and trust of desirable candidates is to show them the true stories of your passionate and driven franchisees.

The most successful videos that we produce have been our mini documentaries, which capture the inspiring stories of real people who partnered with a brand and have found success through hard work and close relationships with their franchisor and fellow franchisees. Entrepreneurs connect with these stories on a human level. They come to see the brand as a legacy, not just a business.

How do you tailor video content to resonate with specific franchise audiences?

Wiley: The decision to buy a business is one of the biggest that a person will make in their lifetime. Matching up the right entrepreneur with the right franchise brand requires meticulous vetting on both sides. At Brand J, we obsess over our clients’ buyer personas and try to get inside their heads as much as possible. The first-time business owner is coming into it with very different questions and goals than the established entrepreneur who is looking to expand their portfolio. Depending on the brand, it may be necessary to produce a range of video content targeting both individually. The specifics of cost, industry, culture, and geography should all influence your targeted filmmaking decisions in big ways.

How do you ensure consistency in branding and messaging across franchise marketing videos?

Wiley: The main goal of Brand J is to always take a journalistic approach to each individual business. The most diligent and industrious entrepreneurs will settle for nothing less than a cohesive brand with strong messaging and a clear identity. We have worked with franchise brands of all shapes and sizes across every industry. Each one has its own unique story to tell. When we shoot video interviews with franchisees and the franchisor support staff of a given brand, I don’t say “cut” until we’ve uncovered the real story, and can tell it in a compelling way across all of our video content.

Where should these videos be posted for maximum exposure?

Wiley: Your brand should have a presence across most platforms. No more excuses about not having time and/or not being tech savvy. Your future franchisees may not be expecting to discover their next business venture on a social app, and that’s why it’s the perfect place to hit them with brand recognition and concise messages about the opportunity. Once their interest has been piqued, they’ll visit your franchise development website, which should be peppered with a series of professional explainer videos, franchisee testimonials, and corporate support content.

Are there any specific challenges unique to creating videos for franchise marketing?

Wiley: If you’re reading this, you know that franchise marketing is the most challenging form of marketing. Any agency or broker can bring you a large quantity of leads, but in the world of franchise sales, quality is everything. It takes a lot of extra work and planning to craft highly targeted video content that appeals to serious entrepreneurs, but it is well worth the effort.

What trends do you see in franchise filming this year?

Wiley: Franchise marketing feels like the Wild West at the moment. Between new AI technologies and ever-changing social media trends, a lot of brands are willing to diversify their approach and experiment more than ever before. The ongoing trend in video production is to give your brand a healthy presence in every possible platform and format, from simple short-form social stories, to long-form high quality franchise development videos and podcasts. This may feel overwhelming to many, but with the right approach, your brand can reach a massive audience.

Why is it important to trust a professional with franchise video marketing?

Wiley: High quality video content is more accessible to businesses than ever before. Anyone can make a nice looking video with their phone and upload it to the major platforms. The big downside is that it is much harder to stand out from the crowd and get eyeballs on your content. A good franchise marketing agency will be made up of people with an entrepreneurial mindset. At Brand J, we obsess over our clients’ primary franchisee personas, and produce a large variety of video content tailored specifically for them.

What advice would you give to franchisors looking to upgrade their video marketing?

Wiley: Not all entrepreneurs are created equal. You should offer prospective franchisees a wide variety of video content that explores the brand from different angles. Many people will connect with your brand after seeing a story about the life of an existing franchise owner. Others will respond best to hard-hitting interviews with your corporate support team. If they’re genuinely interested in your brand, they’ll eagerly consume every last bit of it and become invested before you even have your first phone call. There is a lot that goes into a highly tailored video marketing plan, so of course I recommend talking to the specialists at Brand J. We do the heavy lifting and educate our clients along the way.

Start a Conversation with Brand J

Would you like to explore how our franchise video marketing services can create engaging content that perfectly captures your brand’s story? We’re here to assist in crafting compelling brand story videos, paving the way for you to connect with your next potential franchise owner. Fill out our form here to start a conversation. We look forward to learning more about your brand.

Listen Up! Podcasts “Touch the Brains” of Potential Candidates

Courtesy of Franchise Update Magazine

In the current dynamic marketing landscape, businesses must continually explore innovative ways to connect with their target audience and establish meaningful relationships. The popularity of audio podcasts has skyrocketed, offering a unique and powerful platform for companies to engage high-level B2B customers.

Franchise brands likewise are attracting and educating new franchise candidates and potential business owners with audio podcasts. Sport Clips Haircuts and The Joint Chiropractic, as well as franchise consultants, such as FranNet and FranServe, are finding great value in audio podcasts for lead generation and building relationships.

Here are a few reasons why franchise brands should consider incorporating podcasts into their marketing strategy and content mix.

podcasts

Personalized engagement

One of the key advantages of audio podcasts is the ability to deliver content in a more personalized and intimate manner. Unlike written content or even videos, podcasts allow businesses to communicate directly with their audiences through the power of voice. This “touching of the brain,” as one successful talk radio host would say, creates a stronger emotional connection, making it easier for candidates to relate to the brand and its message.

Thought leadership

By featuring knowledgeable speakers and experts from the company, businesses can share insights, discuss industry trends, and position themselves as thought leaders. This enhances the brand’s credibility and attracts candidates who are actively seeking help from a trusted source.

Many brands are featuring interviews with current franchisees discussing their journey, their businesses, and most importantly, what their lives are like. Think of this recording as an evergreen validation call!

Accessible and convenient

Who is your ideal candidate? Is it someone who watches lots of long corporate videos and scrolls YouTube continuously in between Netflix binging?

No. The candidates who are most likely to be successful business owners are very active people. Offer them information on a flexible and portable medium that they can quickly consume while commuting, working out, or multitasking.

Building a community

Podcasts create a sense of community by fostering ongoing conversations and interactions. Through regular episodes, franchisors can connect with their audience, address concerns, and encourage questions. This is perfect for franchise development marketing as it goes beyond transactional relationships to build a community of engaged business owners.

Once upon a time…

Storytelling is a powerful tool in marketing, and podcasts provide an excellent platform for businesses to tell compelling stories. Whether sharing the company’s journey or your franchisees’ successes, storytelling humanizes the brand and fosters a deeper connection with the potential franchisee.

Changing habits

As consumer habits evolve, businesses must adapt their marketing strategies to stay relevant. The rise of podcast consumption reflects a shift toward audio-centric content. By incorporating podcasts into their franchise marketing efforts, franchisors demonstrate adaptability and a willingness to meet their audience where they are.

I mentioned earlier that audio podcasts are evergreen. I have episodes that are more than 10 years old that get streamed or downloaded every day. Audio platforms change and evolve, such as moving from MP3s to streaming and from Google Podcasts to Spotify. You can also expect changes for podcasts within YouTube and TikTok. However, the audio content remains unchanged. The podcasts in which you invest this year can still be marketing your franchise a decade from now.

Multiple channels

Make sure you don’t just record the podcast, post it on your website, and forget it. Sure, your interested candidates will find it while researching you, but let’s get that podcast in many more ears.

Audio podcasts seamlessly integrate with other marketing channels, creating an immersive brand experience. It needs to be found on Apple, Spotify, and a dozen other audio platforms. It should be posted on all of your brands’ social media accounts and your executives’ social media accounts. Embed it in your emails, transcribe it into a blog post, and text it to everyone in your sales funnel. And give it to your fran dev sales team to share with anyone for whom it may make a difference.

Make sure that your message resonates across all touch points, increasing the chances of reaching potential candidates through their preferred channels.

Examples

We’ve collected all of our current franchising podcasts in one place for easy access here. You’ll find audio podcasts created by franchisors, franchisees, suppliers, IFA, other associations, brokers, consultants, and more. If your brand starts a podcast, I would love to include you here. It can be a game changer in building meaningful connections and driving your success!

Jack Monson is the CEO of franchise development marketing agency Brand J and has been helping franchisors with digital marketing for 15 years. He is also the owner and host of Social Geek, the top podcast in franchising.

Short Form Video With Brand J Project Manager Andrea de Leon

What is Personal Branding and How Can You Use It to Sell Your Franchise Brand?

It’s no secret that short form video is taking over every social media platform. From Facebook to Tiktok, Youtube and X, to even more niche platforms like Pinterest and LinkedIn, have adapted to supporting short form video, and there is a clear reason why. Short form video offers the chance to tell a compelling story in a bite size way. For franchise brands, if you aren’t experimenting today with short form video marketing, you may be at risk of being late to the party tomorrow. In this interview, Project Manager for Brand J franchise development agency, Andrea de Leon, breaks down the logistics of our short form video service, Personal Branding, and how we help franchise brands share their story with the right audience.

andrea de leon short form video

What is Personal Branding and why is it so hot right now?

Personal Branding is an exciting investment to add to a brand’s marketing strategy, where we record a series of interviews, and the videos are chopped up into 30sec-1min segments. We talk about various topics, from the brand’s franchise opportunity, hot-takes in the related industry, and franchising in general. This project is booming because it’s finally putting a face to several well-known franchise brands. In addition to the logo, colors, website, and ads of a franchise, corporate team members and franchisees are able to showcase their passion for a brand’s mission and business opportunity.

Why is short form video taking over the marketing world?

People’s attention spans are unfortunately getting shorter – for the most part. With all of our access to several social media platforms, they incorporate short form video to better depict messages and news. Joining in on this from a franchise development perspective is a no-brainer. A brand can potentially widen the net for who they reach, which can help them grow on both the consumer and development sides.

Where do we post the short form video we create?

We cover a wide array of platforms when it comes to posting Personal Branding videos such as: LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Instagram and Facebook Reels, and X.

How do you prepare clients for their short form video filming sessions?

From questions to pep talks, we help make sure clients are excited to record with us. Depending on the speaker, we curate questions and hooks to cater to topics that the speaker is already an expert in. Typically, we enjoy interviewing anyone from Founders, CEOs, COOs, CMOs, Head of Sales, Franchisees, and more! Everyone always has a unique perspective on topics, and we love seeing everyone’s takes on similar topics. On top of prepping questions, we’ll share our best practices for ensuring that their video has great quality as these sessions are done remotely.

What type of questions do you normally ask in these sessions?

Types of questions will depend on who is being interviewed. When we’re interviewing someone from the corporate team, we love asking questions regarding their brand’s origins, the brand’s franchise opportunity, culture, support, and their experience in franchising. We’ll also cover industry trends, common questions and misconceptions, as well as tips for navigating several brands in the same space. My favorite types of questions are the ones related to franchising and the speaker’s personal experiences, and how they got to where they are!

How does the process work after filming?

After filming, our team gets to work editing the videos in a specific style to cater to not only the client’s branding, but also aimed to hold a viewer’s attention. Once a set of videos is ready for review, I, along with the client’s team, share final feedback before the videos are revised and finalized. Then, the videos are strategically posted on predetermined social media platforms and shared with the world!

How often should short form video content be posted?

This is a very common question I receive, and I know there’s several takes on this. I tell clients that what matters most is consistency. For Personal Branding, we post daily! It really boosts the chances of videos being seen, and it only gets better when the brand’s team helps push videos out to their own personal pages – especially on LinkedIn.

What challenges do you see when it comes to personal branding this year?

A challenge that I could see when it comes to Personal Branding is the videos not reaching their full potential of exposure. By this, I mean that I see an opportunity for a franchise brand’s team to continue boosting their videos’ chances of being seen by engaging more with these videos. Even a simple “Like” is beneficial! For videos that just get posted and forgotten, it’ll take much more time to be seen (if ever). I’m currently working on advising current and future clients investing in Personal Branding to find a way to interact with the videos that are posted across all platforms.

What trends do you see in short form video this year?

When it comes to short form videos, I don’t see any signs of slowing down. It’s an awesome addition to any marketing strategy, because with most platforms, short form videos can reach an audience past those who are already following you. Additionally, repeating similar topics is helpful, because answers are never said the same way twice. If I notice it’s been a while since a brand has talked about something specific, I’ll likely bring it back up in case there are new followers for the account.

What advice would you give franchises looking to start short form video marketing?

Do it! Whether you’re experienced in filming videos of yourself talking or it’s new territory for you, it truly allows you to humanize a brand. Not only can these videos find new audiences that may be a great fit for your next franchisee, but the videos themselves are great tools to use in the sales process. If your team loved the way someone explained something, I highly recommend sharing that video with a franchise prospect. Who knows, they might fall down the rabbit hole of watching past Personal Branding videos on your pages, and they start the conversation with your sales team, knowing more than the average person about your franchise opportunity!

Learn More about Personal Branding with Brand J

Ready to start a conversation with the Brand J team about Personal Branding for your brand? Fill out our form here to start a conversation. We look forward to learning more about your brand and how we can help meet your franchise development goals!

BizCom Associates® Acquires Brand J Franchise Marketing

Courtsey of BizCom Associates

bizcom

BizCom Associates, named the top franchise PR agency by Global Franchise for 2023, today announced it has acquired franchise marketing and lead-generation firm Brand J (formerly Brand Journalists). Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“The result is that two of franchising’s leading PR, lead generation and development marketing agencies are joining forces to create franchising’s premier marketing firm,” said BizCom CEO Scott White, who co-founded BizCom in 1999 with COO Monica Feid. “Brand J is one of the most respected marketing agencies in franchising with a long history of delivering exceptional results for their clients, and we are very excited to have them become a part of the BizCom family.”

“We’ve worked alongside Bizcom for decades, and together we’ve helped grow some of the most iconic franchise brands in the industry,” said Thomas Scott, founder of Brand J. “There are a lot of PE acquisitions in the franchise industry today, and both firms want to remain privately held and committed to growing sustainable, responsible franchise systems. This merger helps us stand out as a supplier of choice in a rapidly growing industry.”

The acquisition is a natural fit for both firms. BizCom and Brand J are annually ranked in Entrepreneur magazine’s list of the top franchise suppliers, and together they represent more than four decades of franchise PR and marketing experience, having worked with many of the most well-known and high-profile names in franchising.

White said that Brand J will operate as a separate division under the BizCom umbrella, that includes BizComPR, Digital BizCom, and BizCom Design. No Brand J staff changes are planned, and Scott will remain involved as a strategist and consultant, ensuring that the excellent results continue.

“Led by CEO Jack Monson, the Brand J team is an exceptional collection of franchise professionals,” White said. “Brand J clients will notice no change in the day-to-day service of their accounts. Rather, both BizCom and Brand J clients will now have access to even more services to grow their brands. Together, we are now able to provide clients with a total franchise marketing solution and a way to consolidate budgets and multiple agency relationships.”

With the addition of Brand J, BizCom’s combined agency services now include public relations, franchise lead generation, website design, video production, influencer campaigns, digital marketing, graphic design, crisis communication, personal branding and more.

About Brand J
Since 2008, Brand J [formerly known as Brand Journalists] has led the industry in franchise development services including franchise lead generation, award-winning recruitment websites, storytelling videos, and a wide range of development consulting. Brand J has been ranked by Entrepreneur magazine as a top industry supplier four years in a row and has built more award-winning franchise websites than all other suppliers combined. Brand J has helped grow over 400 franchise systems, working with development teams to recruit over 12,000 new franchisees using a unique approach to marketing and recruitment that uses storytelling to engage potential buyers and convert them into top-performing franchisees.

 

About BizCom
Established in 1999, BizCom Associates has served clients with a brand presence on every continent and specializes in helping international business leaders, entrepreneurs and franchise companies promote their products and services around the world. The agency’s services go Beyond PR to include digital marketing, crisis communications, publishing, design and other creative services in addition to traditional PR support. For almost 25 years, BizCom has been ranked among the nation’s Top Independent PR Agencies by industry trade publication O’Dwyer’s. The agency also has been named the Top PR Agency by Global Franchise and ranked multiple times as a Top Franchise Supplier by Entrepreneur magazine.

2024 Franchise Marketing Trends

Courtesy of FranchiseWire

Technology, Fear, and a Desire for Authenticity are Shaping Marketing Strategies in the New Year

This article was not written using ChatGPT or any AI tools. A year ago, I didn’t need to specify that; now, I feel like I need to mention this at the beginning of any article, blog, or podcast! And AI is definitely the latest shiny object that consumer marketers can’t get enough of right now. GlobalNewswire reports that the AI market is projected to reach a staggering $407 billion by 2027, experiencing substantial growth from its estimated $86.9 billion revenue in 2022. That growth is impressive, but how will it impact franchise marketers?

We say marketing franchises to potential owners is very different than marketing products and services to consumers. But when it comes to hot tactics and trends – especially the use of AI – humans are human. Here are four franchise marketing trends I’m watching for 2024:

franchise marketing trends

2024 Franchise Marketing Trends

1. Changes with AI

I recently had the privilege of hosting a Social Geek podcast episode that looked at trends with marketing and franchising rock stars Ali Kraus of Benetrends, Liz Solar of Solar Media, Northeast Color’s Derrick Ableman, author Scott Greenberg, and Kenneth Burke of Text Request. The group made an interesting prediction that marketers will move from using AI to churn out a ton of content to wisely using AI to optimize performance. We want to see authenticity in our content.

We’ve seen so many of our marketing and franchising colleagues using AI to slap together blogs that are not very thoughtful. We scroll past our LinkedIn contacts’ long posts that are high in frequency and quantity, but low in quality. When the honeymoon with ChatGPT wears off, they may stop using AI to create content and use it only to construct content. Franchise marketers see big opportunities for AI in areas like media buying and targeting to maximize the reach of franchise development ads without increasing spend. Meta and many third-party apps have made great strides in optimizing social ad performance using AI.

2. Nostalgia Marketing

A hot marketing trend right now is the return to content and messaging that audiences loved in the past, or nostalgia marketing. This is not rebranding, but rather temporarily reviving old branding. Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Pepsi, and many other popular brands are reintroducing old branding, mascots, logos, dishes, and nostalgia from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. From the previously mentioned podcast roundtable, Kraus and Solar have dubbed this the “corduroy movement” due to the return of everyone’s least favorite pants.

There’s a charm and comfort to these retro-branded messages that resonate with audiences in times of crisis and insecurity. We’re looking at 2024 as a year with even more anxiety and economic uncertainty. The upcoming election, weak economy, and world crises will put us in an ugly landscape, so some feel-good content and marketing could work well. This certainly will translate to franchise development marketing.

3. Short-Form Videos

Using videos for franchise marketing has been around for several years, with many brands sharing their brand stories, testimonials, and day in the life of a franchisee videos on their franchise development websites and YouTube channels. These are perfect for sharing with candidates who are researching and validating your brand. But short-form videos serve a completely different purpose. These 30- to 60-second clips typically feature one clip of one person discussing opportunities. They perform well on Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, X, and YouTube Shorts.

And they perform best for marketing franchises on LinkedIn and TikTok. These videos create awareness with entrepreneurs and others who may not have even heard of your franchise brand. After seeing your videos only a few times, your brand can become top of mind. These advisory videos show you as a subject matter expert on whatever topic you choose to speak about. My team currently has 12 client franchise brands that started using this approach to short-form video in 2023, and I think it could be the biggest boost for many more brands in 2024.

4. Personal Branding

Part of the success of short-form videos is due to the personal branding aspect of the content. Setting up subject matter experts has worked well in consumer influencer marketing for a decade. Now is the time for B2B marketers to share expert advice, offer entrepreneurship tips, or create videos for anything for which the “the face of the brand” is known.

And it’s that face or voice that you’re marketing. We often say people don’t buy from companies…they buy from people. That’s more accurate in franchise development than in any other place. More franchise marketers will call upon that person within their brand for candidates to get to know, like, and trust. Developing those personalities on social and engaging with candidates could be the top marketing success story of 2024.

Ready to start a conversation with Brand J? Fill out our form here to get started.

6 Winning Strategies for a Successful Rebrand

Courtesy of FranchiseWire

Awakening Your Brand: The Art of Crafting a Memorable Makeover

Your brand is more than just your logo and your colors. It’s your identity, and it needs to be conveyed consistently and constantly.

Your brand is not what you say it is, but what your customers say it is.

If you haven’t reconsidered your brand’s place in the world for a while, it may be time. If you have the same marketing and branding in front of consumers since before 2020, please consider a refresh. To your customers and potential customers, the world has changed twice in three years. 2020 was more like a dozen years ago.

Marketing agencies have a long history of being like the cobbler’s children who have no shoes. Every agency I’ve worked for in the past 20 years has said, “New website? Yeah, we should do that soon. Brand refresh? Sure, but we’re too busy with our customers’ marketing.”

successful rebrand

Timing a Rebrand

The timing is never perfect, but the evolving landscape in the franchise space demanded that my team should tackle a brand refresh in 2023. When I joined the franchise development marketing agency Brand Journalists early in the year, I informally surveyed several franchise professionals and found different opinions of what the firm did best. Some said creating franchise development videos; some said building franchising websites. Those were both right, but a few people said things we’ve never done. Or they didn’t know about things that we actually do regularly. It was time to re-explain ourselves consistently and constantly.

It started with planning our own website refresh to focus on our four key franchise development services (videos, websites, lead generation, and fractional sales). It grew to a larger redefinition of our offerings, focusing less on the past and more on the vision of franchise development in the future. This included a new look and feel that incorporated our internal nickname, Brand J. By the way, using our nickname came by way of an unexpected LinkedIn post from one of our favorite clients who one day used the hashtag #brandj. We liked the way it felt.

If you’re weighing a rebrand for your franchise in the near future, here are six strategies that will help you make it a win.

1. Assess Your Brand Voice

Has your mission evolved? If you’ve been in business more than five years, consider updating your mission and the reason WHY you’re in business. Once you have that worked out, your brand’s story will be easier to tell.

For example, everyone knows Nike’s inspirational brand messaging and famous slogan, “Just do it.” Having a recognizable brand voice makes your brand more recognizable and attractive. A survey done by Contently, found that 61% of people are more likely to buy from companies that deliver unique content and style of communication.

2. Be Ready to Abandon Old Ideas

“Our brand has always looked like this” is irrelevant to your next group of customers or franchisees. This may be a good time to shed your skin and grow.

3. Get Everyone Involved

While your head of marketing may take the lead on the rebranding project, and the CEO may have the final say on the look and feel, get input from all staff, advisors, and certainly from your franchisees.

4. Stay on a Timeline

It’s easy to say, “This isn’t mission critical,” and put off your rebranding project in favor of day-to-day business. But there’s never going to be extra time for an extra project. Build out a timeline and stay on task.

5. Make Customers Part of the Rebrand

Once completed, your team, franchisees, and customers may want to celebrate. Let them! It’s great to be a part of a positive change with a brand they love.

6. Don’t Panic Over Negative Feedback

There may also be no celebration at first. Your stakeholders and fans may not be thrilled with a new look. If it takes some time for them to get comfortable with a new look, it means they’ve been invested in your brand. Change is hard.

Rebranding is not a one-size-fits-all solution; it’s a nuanced blend of art and science. It demands a deep understanding of the marketplace, your customers’ behavior, and your own strategic vision.

Ready to start a conversation? Fill out our form here to get in touch.

Franchise Leadership and Development Conference Takeaways

A cautiously optimistic 2024 looms ahead as franchise leaders shoot to improve in 2024

 by Thomas Scott – CEO Home Run Franchises, Founder of Brand J

What is the best way to grow a franchise brand in 2024?

 This is the question a sold out and record attendance of the 2023 IFA and Franchise Update Franchise Leadership and Development Conference in Atlanta struggled to understand.

Franchising is historically a down market business – one that does well in down market cycles as people look to business ownership to get more stability in their lives and have more control over their future.

According to the state of the industry report, 84% of franchisors attending did not meet or will struggle to meet their 2023 franchise development goals. We are always a bullish and optimistic industry but when only 16% meet goals, it is a good time to take a step back and evaluate what we are doing to drive franchise development.

There are obviously some negative trends affecting the industry:

Does that mean we should expect underperformance in the year ahead? Are we using the above list as permission to allow ourselves to fail?

As a multi-brand franchisor of Up Closets and Dryer Vent Superheroes, we exceeded our development goal for 2023. Was it hard? Yes. Was it impossible?

No.

franchise leadership and development conference

As I sat in the CEO Summit, a one-day session for CEOs only, we had some frank and open conversations about real performance, without a salesperson in the room.

If you want to be in the group that wins in 2024, read my thoughts and takeaways from this year – you might need to rethink your plan for 2024. You won’t be alone either.

Not all trends are bad. As I like to say, never waste a good recession:

There are footholds in each of the above that can unlock performance, but if you don’t adapt your budget, change vendors, and take a new pass through what you are doing, you are guaranteeing to be in the 84% next year.

Here are my takeaways from the conference and the items I think you should think through if you are trying to restart and create a performance breakthrough for 2024:

Budgets are important

Budgets – for the 16% that actually hit their goals, my brand included, there was one key differentiator: they exceeded the average budget for non-broker lead generation.

The average budget for franchise development advertising was $256k. That’s for a brand that wants to do 40 deals in the year or $21k a month in advertising (includes broker marketing but not broker commissions). For the brands that exceeded their goal, they spent about 8k in pure advertising per sold owner.

Marketing, especially fran dev marketing, is not linear. We need to take a franchise operations and marketing 101 lesson from our support teams on the other side of our business. If you spent 256k and had a 8k cost per deal in 2023, that doesn’t mean the person that spends 100k will have the same cost per deal. In fact, it jumps from 8 to 16k if you don’t devote enough. Inflation is real, advertising simply costs more.

Cost Per Lead Increasing

The franchise lead generation partner I use, Jack Monson and the team at Brand J, gets an average cost per lead at or below $100, and for some sources much lower. The report this year was a shocker – the average cost per leads was at or above $300 a lead for many brands. A small advertising budget just won’t work in 2024 – go in eyes wide open and spend more in your budget than you think.

Does a Higher Broker Fee Really Matter?

The median broker commission is $27,500.

Many brands that successfully sell units have commissions below this – often $12-15k per unit with a multi unit 2 or 3 pack requirement. The advice that you need to greatly inflate your fee so you can double your sales is not turning out to be valid. Brands that have increased commissions did not always sell more, so beware of this advice.

Brands that raised fees did not see increases, and if they did, they did so by killing the majority of their organic recruitment efforts. Brokers are a great option – in the year ahead, it is important to make sure you run an actual profit in your development department, and make sure some portion of the franchise fee goes to your bottom line.

In speaking with the CEO of PuroClean, he mentioned that if someone told him five years ago that you could make money on franchise sales, he’d show you a questionable bookkeeper. His brand produced a profit this year and was in the 16% of brands that hit their budget. He’s on the right track.

FSOs are a problem

There was a lot of frustration with the rise of FSO and the apparent damage they’ve done to the franchise industry. I talked to several CEOs and a few Private Equity buyers about a new trend. When they look to acquire brands, they are looking for founder grown brands and see those as more valuable than FSO grown brands. Because these outsource franchise sales companies push very high franchise fees and large multi unit deals on franchisors that are NO READY and have no chance of supporting the growth, massive litigation has broken out. Brokers are part of the problem, owners thinking they can flip in 2 years are also a problem, but the FSOs make this negative situation possible.

One anonymous Private Equity buyer I talked to told me stories about how they looked at several FSO brands with a few hundred units, and when they looked under the hood, they walked away. They are now avoiding FSO built brands or doing triple the due diligence they would with a traditional, founder built brand.

Quiet Quitting Broker Networks

A well known CEO coined the best phrase I heard this year when he said his brand, which had historically done 85% of their work through brokers, is now doing 14% of their deals with brokers. He said they are ‘Quiet Quitting’ the broker networks and rethinking their strategy with franchise brokers.

CEOs are frustrated with broker networks, and it is clear that although 18% of deals come from brokers, broker networks are not doing enough to make sure franchise brands do deals. This CEO, like many others, is withdrawing from networks and slimming down to 1 or 2 with a goal of having 4-5 trustworthy brokers in a single network and spending money directly on them, rather than marketing, fees and conferences with the network.

In general, brands talked about how broker networks made salespeople lazy in 2023, and they are generally returning to organic lead generation with robust recruitment websites, social commerce, digital ads and other forward facing and cost effective franchise lead generation, similar to what Brand J uses. They are more likely to produce deals than brokers in the year ahead.

Renewed Focus on Traditional, Organic Lead Generation

With the frustration with Broker networks from so many brands, there was a lot of buzz on taking back control of your lead generation efforts and diverting time and resources back to tried and true franchise lead generation tactics. This includes investment on your recruitment website, creating a higher performance site which converts visitors to leads, storytelling content marketing, franchise development videos, podcasts for recruitment and all sorts of digital and social advertising.

Short Form Video as the New PR and Franchise Lead Generation Tool

The real surprise tactic brands have turned to is using short form video to recruit franchises and replace diminishing PR. This video, focused on franchise recruitment, is rare in our industry, but common outside franchising.

I leaned into this last year with my brands, and the results are solid – follow me on Linkedin if you want to see they types of videos I’m talking about. My Dryer Vent Superheroes brand recruited a well qualified and SBA funded candidate from TikTok this year off a video on ways to finance your franchise.

I’m not alone – The Joint Chiropractic, Belfor – Chemdry, 1-800 Water Damage, NHance, and a few other early adopters are using this new tactic with great affect. These videos are not just for organic reach, they are the backbone for a monetized digital and social ad recruitment campaign.

Short form video is here to stay – executing this on a daily effort costs about $5k a month, but reaches millions of potential people and fuels all sorts of connections. There was lots of buzz about this, and I’m a fan.

Lots of Buzz About AI

It’s been a full year since Chat GPT launched, and it’s the topic most people want to talk about. Here’s the deal though – other than using it to edit videos, improve normal written work, or for some basic sales automations, it isn’t a tool that helps people recruit more. It is still amazing, but it isn’t new and its quickly become part of our daily lives.

It’s an augmentation that allows us to write better and more, and it can easily make us more productive.

Here are the top AI nuggets I heard:

The tools are evolving so fast, I’m on a panel in January at a franchise conference, and what we do now will be irrelevant.

The best advice I heard was simply not to bury your head in the sand and learn the CORE method of writing Chat GPT prompts. Use it to do your work faster and do a better job of the work you are already doing.

High Interest Rates Killing Momentum

For some brick and mortar brands, higher interest rates are making expansion difficult. Even at Home Run Franchises, a simple SBA Express loan has a rate north of 11%, and that makes it challenging for some buyers. Expand this to more expensive concepts, and funding is the main challenge for brick and mortar concepts.

Sadly, there is not likely to be relief in 2024. If your concept is affected, brands are downsizing and thinking about creating solutions for development that fit the year ahead.

Younger Buyers Emerging – Boomers Aging Out

There are record numbers of younger buyers – both Millennials and GenZ buyers opting for franchises, and they have radically different ideas of franchising and differ from older franchisees in how they behave in the sales process.

One important nugget is that the sales process is changing, and depending on the generation of the buyer, your salespeople need to also adapt to get peak performance. Younger buyers expect quicker access to info and text communications, plus they don’t like webinars or Discovery Days the way older buyers have historically.

A big trend this year was Baby Boomer buyer aging out and shutting down operations rather than selling. Resale programs are more important today than ever before, and if you can identify possible owners that might age out, start conversations with them about exits and plans for exit, so you are ahead of the curve and don’t lose an otherwise salvageable unit.

Conversion Types on Your Website Changing

A form is not enough these days!

The survey data showed that 1/3 of the recruitment websites in the survey lack a phone number. This despite the data that shows phone leads close at twice the rate of a form fill.

Look at your website and make sure the number is on every page, near the form. Make sure this either goes to a recruiter or to a call service like Answer Connect, and not your general phone directory or main call center. Franchise leads are fickle and these are highly valuable calls – don’t waste them.

Integration with Calendy calendars into websites are also becoming more common and produce better results than just relying on forms. Having a ‘Apply for a Franchise’ page in your research funnel that has a form, a phone number, an embedded Calendar for meetings and even a chat with a recruiter is what a modern website looks like.

Remember that younger buyers are mobile only, so be critical of your own website or get an experienced vendor who knows franchise sales to give you an audit – this single item can increase sales without much cost.

You are Only as Fast as Your Slowest Vendor

One theme that came up was we are in a rapidly changing era of franchise recruitment. There are record numbers of people looking at franchising, but we’ve gotten lazy about recruitment and taken our eyes off innovation.

If you haven’t worked with a growth partner vendor that brings you new ideas and keeps your strategy ahead of the curve, you are likely to miss your goal. Finding vendors – like the ones I use for my development – that continually stay ahead of the curve matters. Don’t assume you are using the right vendors as you create your 2024 budget – there are new tactics, new technologies, and both positive and negative winds blowing.

This is true of all vendors, and especially true when it comes to franchise development.

What I’m Doing for Next Year

I plan to increase my spend next year and attack organic recruitment. I’m using AI as often as I can and I’m using short form videos for recruitment and as a replacement for PR (cheaper and produces better results).

I’m investing in new recruitment websites designed to convert and I’m thinking about how to recruit younger buyers. I’m rethinking and narrowing my focus for broker networks and thinking about how to go directly to brokers, focusing on fly in events vs conferences.

What are you planning to do in 2024 to grow your franchise brand? If you attended, what did you learn? Reach out to us today to start a conversation.

How To Use Short-Form Storytelling To Boost Your Brand

Courtsey of Franchising.com

Storytelling is the essential part of human communication. From ancient cave paintings to TikTok videos, great stories have always captivated us, evoked emotions, and conveyed powerful messages.

As a brand, great stories make you rise above your competitors. While many complain about the ever-changing social media algorithms and landscape, social media is where successful marketers win by telling stories.

But what sets apart a great story from a forgettable one? What are the key elements that make storytelling truly impactful? Let’s explore the vital components that contribute to the art of good brand storytelling.

Short-Form Storytelling

1) The hero

At the heart of every compelling story is a memorable and relatable hero who draws your audience into your narrative. Characters should possess depth, have clear motivations, and undergo transformation at some point in the story.

Who is the hero in your brand’s story? It’s not you. And that’s the secret. Your stories must focus on your customers, not yourself or your business.

So many marketers working for franchise brands and nearly all agencies in this space get this wrong. They think storytelling is all about sharing the history of the brand. However, your audience does not care about how you started your company, what you did before, or how many things you’ve sold. That’s lazy, uninspired storytelling. Your audience wants to know what you can do for them.

If you’re a franchisee, the hero of your story is a customer. If you’re a franchise industry supplier, the hero of your story is a franchisor. And if you’re a franchisor, the hero of your story is a franchisee. That’s the great thing about scaling a franchise business: more units, more stories.

So, what’s your role in the story? You’re here to help the hero. You’re in the story to provide guidance, a plan, or tools to be successful.

If your brand is Star Wars, you’re not Luke Skywalker. You’re Obi-Wan Kenobi. If your brand is Camelot, you’re not King Arthur. You’re Merlin. If your brand is The Godfather, you’re not Don Corleone. You’re the consigliere.

Your voice as the storyteller should be empathetic. The story is not about what you want, but what your hero and your audience want. Your voice should also be authoritative to lend credibility and add depth to the storytelling experience.

2) The conflict

Conflict is the driving force behind any story. A well-crafted conflict moves the narrative forward and keeps the audience engaged, wondering how it will be resolved. It will force your hero to grow, adapt, and overcome. The conflict is where you hook the audience. This is where your audience puts themselves into the story.

If you know your audience, creating an interesting conflict should be the easiest part of writing your story. What problem does your audience have? Without this problem, the audience won’t want to hear or read the story—and they won’t need you or your brand.

3) The plot

A captivating plot is the backbone of any story. Even if we’re talking about very short videos on Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube Shorts, it should have a well-defined structure with a clear beginning, middle, and end. The plot should present the conflict the hero must overcome, creating suspense. A good plot keeps the audience engaged and eager to learn what happens next.

With short-form videos and other short social media content, it’s more crucial than ever to boil a story down to its most important parts. That’s the key to storytelling in an age of decreasing attention spans and exponentially increasing noise on all social media platforms.

4) The impact and resolution

Stories that touch the audience’s emotions have a lasting impact. Emotionally resonant storytelling can make your customers laugh, cry, or, most importantly, feel inspired to take action. Whether it’s a heartfelt dialogue in a short video, a poignant moment in a podcast, or a persuasive image on Instagram, evoking genuine emotions can elevate your brand story.

The resolution should be satisfying and provide closure. The resolution should also lead to the audience wanting to replicate that story, focusing on themselves.

Work with Brand J

Ready to see what we can do with your brand? Get a conversation with us here. We look forward to learning more about how we can help bring your brand to new heights.

Brand J Announces New Senior Editor

sophia senior editorNashville, TN — Brand J franchise Development Marketing Agency is excited to announce the well-deserved promotion of Sophia Giordano-Scott to the position of Senior Editor. With her exceptional dedication, creativity, and passion for storytelling, Sophia has consistently demonstrated her commitment to delivering high-quality content that captures the essence of our clients’ brands.

Sophia joined Brand J as an SEO Specialist and Content Manager in 2021, and quickly made a significant impact on our agency’s content development process. Her ability to craft compelling narratives and tailor messages to resonate with diverse audiences has been a driving force behind the success of numerous client campaigns.

“Sophia’s promotion to Senior Editor reflects not only her exceptional skills, but also her unwavering dedication to excellence,” said Jack Monson, CEO at Brand J. “Her insightful approach to storytelling and her collaborative spirit have not only enriched our clients’ narratives, but have also inspired her colleagues to strive for greatness.”

As Senior Editor, Sophia will play a pivotal role in guiding the creative direction of our agency’s content initiatives. Her deep understanding of brand messaging and her talent for transforming complex ideas into engaging stories will continue to be invaluable assets as we expand our portfolio and take on new challenges in the ever-evolving landscape of franchise development marketing.

“I’m truly honored and excited to take on this new role,” said Sophia Giordano-Scott. “I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had at Brand J and look forward to continuing to elevate our clients’ brands through strategic storytelling and innovative content strategies.”

About Brand J Franchise Marketing Agency

Brand J is a leading franchise development marketing agency that specializes in crafting authentic and compelling brand narratives. With a team of seasoned professionals, Brand J helps clients in the franchise industry connect with their target audiences through strategic content creation, digital marketing, and award winning franchise development websites.

Start a conversation about what Brand J can do for your brand here.

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