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.”
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.
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:
Poor to sluggish economy
Uncertain political future
Skyrocketing interest rates making loans less affordable
Stricter underwriting by banks making those loans harder to get
Rising costs of supply chains and construction
Joint employer legislation strangling some sectors
The FTC considering drastic rule changes for franchisors
FSOs and broker networks overselling systems and creating litigation
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?
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:
Younger buyers are entering franchising in large numbers
The economy is forcing people to look at franchising as a viable option
The move to AI is creating a new spin – franchising as the AI Resistant business
Service brands are booming
People are financing deals with HELOC loans at record rates
Franchising still grew despite missing goals
Franchising has become much more main stream
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:
Use AI to evaluate phone call transcripts
Use AI to create better performing ad copy
Use AI to edit videos and add captions
Use AI with Zapier and your CRM to trigger sales automations
Use AI for SWOT analysis of your competitors
Don’t use the free Chat GPT, or your private or proprietary info might be compromised – use the paid version only for business
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.
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.
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
Nashville, 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.
Franchise Marketing Review: David Sparks Talks PPC Trends to Watch in 2021 and Beyond
Paid online advertising is changing, and Brand Journalists can lead you through it
At Brand Journalists, we spend a lot of time following the trends and changes in pay-per-click technology and practices, or PPC as it’s called, and I have to tell you, it’s been a year. Paid online advertising is changing rapidly, and the changes we’re seeing aren’t necessarily the best news for an industry already reeling from the pandemic.
After the year franchising had in responding to, coping to, adjusting to, and recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, it almost seems like things are getting back to normal. The challenges our industry faced were staggering on multiple fronts.
Not only did franchisors have to radically transform the manner in which their franchisees delivered goods or services, but they also had to bear tremendous expenses associated with internal responses to the pandemic, and they did this while suffering staggering shortfalls in royalty revenue in almost every franchising sector. All the while, franchising itself became a lynchpin of the economy.
So at a time when PPC advertising is more vital than ever, it’s important that you understand the changes that are happening in it and how you can maximize the impact of the dollars you invest, one mouse click at a time. Here are the big trends I’m seeing in PPC and how they’ll impact your sales.
Google is changing the kinds of data you can get
It used to be that you’d go to Google or Facebook, input some demographic goals and run your campaign. You knew who you were targeting down to their age, their gender, their street address, their income level.
We’ll call those “the good ol’ days” from now on.
That’s because Google made a major change in its privacy and security policies that will tremendously restrict the kind of information you can access from search queries. At the same time, the power of tracking cookies has been nearly wiped out.
That’s the bad news.
The good news, though, is Google has greatly expanded access to data in the Google Ad Hub, and it will still be possible to create targeted ads. But the strategies will have to change, as it will become increasingly difficult to know the browsing habits of the individuals moving from site to site to site.
Diversification will expand your reach – and maybe save you some money
With the changes over at Google, other advertising platforms and the web sites that rely on the revenues they receive from those platforms are trying to fill the gap. Put simply, I think Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook are all about to have a field day.
That means you’ll need to diversify where you’re spending your PPC budget. The changes at Google will mean big opportunities for competing platforms to lower prices, improve engagement and conversions, and place a lot more ads.
Over the coming months, I anticipate we’ll see a lot of discussions about conversion rates and which platform performs the best. And, I expect we’ll notice some significant cost savings in the price per click, too.
A renewed focus on mobile advertising will drive strategy
Don’t get me wrong. Mobile browsing is already the “where it’s at” of online marketing. But in the past, it’s been mostly driven by two PPC channels: Google and Facebook. We’ve already talked about Google and how changes there will mean developing new strategies. But what about Facebook?
You probably read earlier this year about the court case Facebook fought (and lost) against Apple over the proposed “opt out” feature to be built into iOS. Well, that feature went live and is now the standard on more than half of all smart phones in the world, which means Facebook ads won’t generate the targeted, intensely personalized placement of the past.
That’s where audience targets will become a critical component. Previously, PPC ads on social media relied on cross-browser tracking to provide “people interested in hamburger joints” with that hot new ad from the burger franchise. A new focus on developing tightly honed persona marketing identities will be necessary if you want to keep prospects clicking away on those banner ads, especially considering our final big trend of 2021.
Automation strategy is more important than ever before
Remember those “good ol’ days?” The ones with a bunch of data and the ability to build ads for “people interested in hamburger joints?”
When that was the norm, we were able to build a campaign based solely on a few key words and the demographics we hoped to target. We were able to rely on Facebook or the other cross-platform tracking systems to say, “Hey, this person searched for how to start a burger joint. They may like this ad from your franchise. Here it is!”
That’s not going to be the case anymore. The tracking pixel is pretty much dead, thanks in part to Apple and Google. Facebook can’t rely on its app on every mobile phone to track the users, either. This means you’ll need a new PPC strategy that focuses more on bidding strategy and persona marketing than in previous years.
The brave new world is exciting, but it’s not scary
There’s always going to be a give and take between privacy of users and the value of advertising data in the online advertising space. Having a PPC strategy that addresses this flow is vital to saving you time, money, and missed opportunities.
At Brand Journalists, we’re innovating every day to make sure we’re delivering quality leads from ads that work. Whether it’s Facebook, Google, or some other platform that hasn’t been invented yet, we’re on the forefront.
And if all the privacy changes mean our news feed won’t get cluttered with ads for Alpo the next time we say to a friend that food truck taco we just ate tasted like dog food, then the extra time it takes to get the ads right will have been worth it.
Power of the Podcast
How podcasting can grow your franchise sales
When podcasting first started in 2006, it wasn’t clear exactly how this new medium might become popular, much less useful. Few people knew what podcasts were, and even fewer had the technical skill or the interest to listen.
My what a difference just 15 years makes! Today, podcasting is one of the top forms of media driving consumer engagement and entertainment. The transformation has been nothing short of revolutionary, as Brand Journalists president David M. Sparks explains.
“Everywhere you go, you hear people talking about this podcast or that one, asking if you caught the latest episode of a mystery or the interview with your favorite celebrity,” David says. “Advertising is focusing on podcasting, and so are a lot of businesses, and with good reason.”
That reason: more than 48% of individuals aged 25-54 listen to podcasts regularly. That includes entrepreneurs and business owners, who turn to podcasts for research and information. So what is podcasting? And how can you unlock the power of the podcast in your franchise?
Podcasting 101: What a podcast is and isn’t
Understanding a podcast’s power starts with understanding what a podcast isn’t. Podcasts are not just long infomercials for your brand. They’re informative, engaging conversations that invite listeners to learn more, as David explains.
“At Brand Journalists, our goal in everything we do is to get entrepreneurs to engage with your brand’s story on an emotional, gut level, and there’s no better tool for that than a podcast,” David says. “Podcasts allow subject matter experts, brand presidents, or even enthusiastic franchisees to share their experiences in a personal, relatable manner.”
Audiences connect with the stories they hear, whether it’s about someone wrongfully convicted of a crime or the next big thing in franchising.
Podcasting is big…really big
It’s hard to imagine how big podcasting became in such a short period of time. But by the numbers, there are more than two million podcasts produced worldwide with 48 million individual episodes available. At the same time, more than half the individuals in America have listened to a podcast!1
“The numbers are just staggering,” David says. “And they’re climbing. We constantly hear from people about the things they’ve heard on the Brand Journalists podcasts, and when we look at the data, at the statistics, it’s easy to see why.”
Perhaps the most important aspect of podcasting for franchise owners are the demographics of the audience. Listeners are evenly divided between men and women, and they’re distributed widely across all age brackets. Perhaps most importantly, for individuals in the ages “sweet spot” of 25 to 54, almost half listen to podcasts weekly.
The most impressive demographic of podcasting is the affluence of the audience. More than 75% of listeners live in homes with an annual income of more than $75,000. Combine this income level with the age range of podcast listeners and an audience penetration pushing 50% and the picture is clear: you want your brand in front of podcast audiences, because that’s where the audiences and the money are.
How can podcasting help your franchise system?
Podcasts can connect you to potential franchise owners in a powerful manner unlike virtually any other form of engagement available. That connection is important for two reasons.
First, a brand’s story connects to potential franchise owners on a gut level, and the more compelling that story is, the stronger the connection they’ll feel to your brand, the products and services you provide, and the culture you’ve created, as David explains it.
“While online advertising is important, with a web site, a Facebook ad, or a Google search, your brand is competing with a flood of other brands for their attention,” David says. “The fight to stand out can be challenging, especially when you’re trying to connect with that prospect on an almost instinctual level.”
But with podcasts? David notes a podcast enjoys a specific advantage that no other form of media has – how the consumer consumes them.
“Most listeners tune into podcasts through headphones or earbuds, directly into their brains while they’re shopping, working out, or cleaning the house,” David says. “No other medium offers you this much power to share your story. You’re literally the voice in their head.”
Interested in learning how Brand Journalists can help you with podcasting?
Brand Journalists is the premier franchise marketing and lead generation agency. If you’d like to learn more about how Brand Journalists can assist you in growing your brand through podcasting, reach out to one of our team today. We look forward to helping you share your brand’s story.
The Conversational Marketing Revolution
How conversational marketing is transforming the sales automation process – one customer at a time
As franchise sites increase information density to previously unimaginable levels, it’s now more important than ever to help potential leads to find the information they need quickly. Enter Conversational Marketing, that helpful little chat window that pops up to offer assistance to visitors.
Whether it’s a live chat agent or an AI-driven chatbot on the other side of that pop-up, this interaction marks the first “real time” experience your customer will have with your brand. It’s also a moment that can make or break their experience.
To understand why conversational marketing is so important to both the sales automation process and to franchise lead generation, you have to first think about the sales process and how technology is changing the way buyers make decisions.
Traditional sales funnels are still important, but so is how customers find information
Sometimes, it’s hard for me to avoid falling into an “old way/new way” mode of thinking. The old way of franchise sales was finding a prospect through a web form, sending them a barrage of information, and then scheduling a phone call to walk them through the information you just sent them.
That information – the sales funnel – provided them with an overview of the franchise concept, a breakdown of basic costs, what resources the franchisor made available to franchisees, franchise support options, and so on. During that initial phone call, it was easy for a good salesperson to hone in on the prospect’s most pertinent questions and to craft answers that overcame any objections.
To be clear, all of the information included in a typical sales funnel is still vital to the sales automation process. However, as any seasoned sales pro will tell you, not every lead has the same questions. What’s important to one individual may well be irrelevant to the next.
Unfortunately, too many franchise concepts still rely on a rigid sales funnel with very little interaction other than to lead a potential buyer through every step, whether that step is relevant or not. Ask yourself how many irrelevant steps you’re willing to go through to get to the information you need to decide you want to pursue a purchase. Two? Three? Five?
Conversational marketing is changing the traditional sales funnel by blowing it up completely. Here’s how it works.
Conversational Marketing can transform the sales funnel into a sales driver
In the traditional franchise sales process, it was the sales associate’s job to divine a potential lead’s questions and then provide answers. This interaction took place on trade show floors and over the phone. Today, that initial job falls almost wholly to the brand’s web site through sales automation.
But franchise sites are information-dense, and not all potential buyers want to wade through every detail. They want immediate access to the answers they need to assess their decision.
For some sites, a simple search suffices. However, the cold, impersonal search box doesn’t necessarily provide your visitor with the personal touch they are looking for. Conversational marketing tools like live chat can deliver precisely the information they want when they want it.
Think of conversational marketing like a well-organized card catalog of answers to questions, and your friendly chat representative is the knowledgeable reference librarian, ready to pluck the answer out of the ether. Here’s an example of a conversational marketing exchange on a franchise web site:
Chat Agent: Hello! Welcome to our web site. How can I help you find what you’re looking for?
User: I am wondering how much it costs to open a franchise.
Chat Agent: Great. Happy to help. Here is a breakdown of franchise costs. (LINK)
When the user clicks the link, they’re taken to the appropriate page in the research funnel. Here is where the process gets very interesting: they’re not visiting that page alone. The moment it loads, their friendly chat agent is still there to answer any questions.
Chat Agent: Is this the information you’re looking for?
User: Could you tell me the franchise fee?
Chat Agent: Yes. As you can see, the franchise fee is $49,995
Now that your visitor has the specific answer they’re looking for, they’ll move on to their next question. And then the next, and the next. They’re navigating the research funnel, but they’re doing so on their own terms, with a handy guide down there in the bottom of their browser window.
Conversational marketing means constant access, but it doesn’t mean constant staffing
Few franchises (if any!) could afford to staff a chat function on a web site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Fortunately, they don’t have to do so thanks to incredible advancements in artificial intelligence systems.
When you hear “chat bot,” you probably think of an anthropomorphized paperclip harping at you to “Click if this is what you’re looking for.” That’s hardly what I’m speaking of today when I say conversational marketing.
With recent technological developments, “chat bots” are almost indistinguishable from an actual person sitting on the other side of the computer. From the user’s perspective, they’re interacting with a person and personality. The best systems even have senses of humor and empathy and can respond to users’ jokes or comments appropriately.
User: I’m having a really hard time finding out how many franchise locations you have.
Chat Agent: I’m so sorry. Let me help you out.
Chat Agent: Here is a list of current locations from our FDD. (LINK)
An interaction as simple as offering an apology and then assistance can transform the potential lead’s experience. Even better, if the chat agent cannot adequately address their question, the agent is prepared to convert them into a sales lead on the spot.
Chat Agent: You know, it might be better if I have one of my sales team reach out to you. Can you give me an email address or phone number where you can be reached?
User: Sure. email@example.com
Chat Agent: Great! I’ll have someone get in touch with you soon. Is there anything else I can do to help?
And just like that, you’re on the phone or emailing with a new lead for your franchise company, all thanks to conversational marketing.
Transform your sales into a buying process
Perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of conversational marketing and sales automation is that it transforms your company’s marketing experience from a sales process into a buying process. By shifting focus from your franchise opportunity and to your buyer, you’re meeting them where they are, placing them in the driver’s seat of the process, and guiding them to the information they need.
For something as transformative as this technology can be, it’s remarkably affordable, as well. There is a conversational marketing and sales automation process suitable for franchise concepts of any size.
At Brand Journalists, we’ve employed conversational marketing tools for international franchise brands and new startups alike. In each case, these systems have produced remarkable results.
So whether you’re a small, scrappy upstart with a core team bootstrapping the next big thing in franchising or a household name, transform your sales process into a buying process with conversational marketing. You’ll be surprised at the results.
Want to talk about how to incorporate conversational marketing into your franchise development strategy?
If your franchise opportunity is ready to employ conversational marketing tactics on your development site, Brand Journalists can help. Contact us today to see how we can help you employ quality video production to tell your brand story.
Thomas Scott and Brett Larrabee Share the Top 5 Qualities to Expect in a Franchise Recruiter
Check out the full transcript here:
CEO and Founder of Brand Journalists is joined by franchise recruitment expert, Brett Larrabee, on the What The Franchise Podcast to share the top 5 qualities all franchise sales professionals must possess.
Scott and Larrabee share laughs, wisdom and personal experiences explaining why successful franchise recruiters are curious, enthusiastic, positive, urgent, disciplined and natural-born storytellers.
Check out their full conversation below:
Thomas Scott: Brett, thanks for joining us today, it is really good to have you on the call. I enjoy talking to you on a regular basis and I think other people really enjoy listening to you as well.
What is the core problem with recruiters today? Why in our industry is there such a dilemma around finding good recruiters, and why do so many recruiters and so many owners of franchise systems, and CEOs struggle to get recruitment results?
Brett Larrabee: Well, look, there’s a lot of great salespeople out there. But, selling a franchise is not only a high ticket investment, but it’s a lifestyle investment. It’s something that is turning the ship not only for the person who is buying it, but typically their entire family. So, the decision process is one that people are challenged with.
They’re coming to franchise salespeople for a solution in their life, and the franchise salesperson is somehow looking at this as them going through the franchisor’s process or their sales process. Increasingly with COVID and everything that’s gone on over the past, even two years, people are resistant to working within the lines of a brand’s process. The pushback of that would be that this is franchising and there are rules. If somebody’s not willing to work within the lines, maybe they wouldn’t be a great franchisee.
I would argue that buying a franchise has a lot of resistant currents to it. There’s a lot of things that are pushing against people to in fact, not buy. Not just fear of failure, but fear of change. Other voices coming at them for different reasons, and you need to be able to really understand that person’s buying dilemma. Their challenges and what’s in their head. Because at the end of the day, there really isn’t franchise selling. There’s only franchise buying. That’s the only way anything happens in this business.
Somebody that buys may in fact be a great franchisee and will work within your system and work within your lines. But, getting them to the point of buying is a bit of an art and science that’s learned over a period of years. The challenge is that a lot of these sales people come in and force people into a rigid process, or they force them into their sales mantra, giving them their information and really talking over or through the franchise prospect in a way that they lose interest. The franchise prospect is looking to solve an individual problem, and if you’re not willing to get to know that person on the individual basis, and understanding what their needs are and how to solve those needs, you’re never going to be a great franchise development person. In fact, you’re going to burn a lot of money in lead generation, in time, in payroll, and the frustrating thing for franchisors is that they see people following the supposed rules of the franchise sales process, but they are not getting the results that they demand to move their business forward. That just costs a lot of money. It costs a lot of time that you can’t get back.
The best part about this is that there’s a solve for all of this. You can actually do better if you choose to do better. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of legacy people in this business that are resistant to change, and to looking at the franchise development process in a pragmatic way in order to move their business forward.
Thomas Scott: Yeah I would agree. You know if you had 100 qualified candidates come through any kind of franchise recruitment website or through any lead source, we would generally say that 5% or 6% of the 100, are probably closable people. People that could, with the right skill, management and attention to detail, could actually buy the franchise, and buy it for the right reasons. It’s a good fit for them and what their goals are. What we see is that most franchise recruiters kill 90% of their closable deals. Even a good one chews through.
Brett you and I were talking a year or two back, and I needed to make a change in my internal franchise sales staff, and I made a change. Through a lot of conversation we came up with a list of the five really important qualities that really make a difference for franchise recruiters. And we’re going to go through this list one-by-one here. But, I think this is an important list to have if you’re trying to evaluate where you have a breakdown with the person at point on your franchise recruitment. Whether it’s you or somebody that works for you, or you’re trying to recruit somebody new – hire for these five things. These five things are what are an essential piece of what it takes to get a positive result today. If you’re missing any or all of these, that person is going to underperform and you’ll spend $200,000 on advertising and wonder why you don’t have much to show for it. It’s almost never a lead issue. It’s almost always the person on point. Their skills, attitude or their whole orientation to how to recruit somebody and help them make a good decision.
So let’s start with number one. This was just one of your issues, and I want to hear you explain this. The person has to have an innate sense of curiosity. What does that mean when you say that?
Brett Larrabee: Well, if you’ve ever been in a conversation with somebody that knows everything and talks over every piece of the puzzle back and forth, and doesn’t let you add your two cents and, and really is trying to solve for x without any input from you.
Sales is about listening. Oftentimes the less you talk as a salesperson, the more you win. Being able to understand other people is really based in this idea of curiosity. If I’m curious, and I really want to understand why did you come up with the idea of calling me, or coming to our franchise organization as a possibility for changing your business life, that’s a big question. It’s a big question to know, what is it that you enjoy? What is your family into? What do you do? What is it that you’ve done in the past that brings you to this place? Really asked questions not just to build a relationship, but to really understand the prospect. This idea of curiosity is not something everybody’s born with, and I don’t think it’s something that everybody has.
A lot of people are great at talking. But they’re not great at listening, because everybody actually just loves to hear their own voice. The truth is that the more you can get the franchise prospect to talk about themself, the more they’re going to talk themselves into this idea that you have as a franchisor. I find that ultimately nobody wants to be sold. They just don’t. It’s a repugnant idea.
So, you really want this idea to become their idea. That’s your job. Your job as a salesperson is to understand them, and give them the roadmap, so that they can make this their idea and find the finish line for themselves. It’s a much more successful process.
Thomas Scott: I went to school for journalism and was a newspaper person in my early adult career. Curiosity is really important. If you’re going to be a journalist, you have to have an innate sense of curiosity to learn about the world around you.
When it comes to the relationship with a prospect who you’re just meeting for the first time, and you have a franchise recruiter who walks away from an hour long call, and they really don’t know much about the person, it’s probably because they lack curiosity.
Somebody with innate curiosity wants to know the story behind somebody. They’re like “Tell me how did you get here? What do you do for a living? Do you have kids? Where do you live? Where’d you go to school? What’s your career? Walk me through your career.” Then you start talking and you find common ground. You’re not asking those questions, because you have to if you have innate curiosity. It’s a reflexive, innate quality that just happens. You can’t connect with somebody in a real, meaningful and authentic way if you don’t have a sense of curiosity. That just means simply asking questions. You can teach yourself to be more curious by training yourself to ask better questions in a certain sequence in order to really probe and uncover. You know, in journalism, they say you have to ask the same question five different ways to get to the root answer, because people will often tell you a surface answer. Then you ask it again and it gets deeper and deeper, until you get down to the real kind of core of the issue when you ask it.
A franchise recruiter, somebody who’s selling, it’s a very difficult thing to recruit for. It takes years to master. It’s a very long sales cycle. There are 10,000 things that can go wrong to keep a deal from happening, but curiosity is where the real relationship starts.
Brett Larrabee: Absolutely. When you think about the most important people in your life, they’re the ones that are concerned about YOU. They’re the ones that listen to YOU. They’re not the ones that preach at you. They’re the ones that actually help you think through your life strategy by asking you questions, by compelling you to think for yourself, not telling you how to think, but giving you the opportunity to empower yourself to move forward.
Thomas Scott: I mean, yeah. This is a good example, every time I see you, or we talk, I ask how Ulga, your Ukrainian wife is doing, and whether or not you have any plates in your kitchen, because she’s famous for breaking all the plates in your kitchen then she gets mad at you. Which is a fascinating story. I know that because I’ve asked you questions about it. I’m really innately curious about how much chinaware you have in the cabinets at your house, because I find it really entertaining to hear that story.
Brett Larrabee: We’re not quite down to paper plates yet, but we’re getting there.
Thomas Scott: But that’s a good example. If you get that kind of real, meaningful connection with somebody, that’s the basis of a relationship, and that comes from curiosity. What we really mean is that if you have a salesperson who naturally asks a lot of questions, they’re going to be more successful than somebody who doesn’t.
A person who doesn’t innately want to learn more about a person, ask questions, and that is reserved and doesn’t like people asking them questions, that person is not going to be as successful as the person that asks questions. It’s just a fact.
So when you’re looking for someone count the number of questions they asked you in the interview. That is a great place to start and gauge: is this person curious or not. Another is what would they have learned? You can ask them “what did you learn from our meeting? Tell me three things you’ve learned, like unique things about me, my background and my company.
Number two is, (and we’ve worked with so many recruiters who are not good at this), but is positive energy. Like somebody who has a high level of enthusiasm. You have to, have to, have to be a highly enthusiastic person to be successful. For any length of time in franchise recruitment.
Brett Larrabee: Oh, absolutely. Here’s the reality. We all have people in our life that bring energy to our everyday experience. Then we have those people that drain us. And some of those people that drain us, they don’t even need to say a word. Their negativity just just zaps our energy and doesn’t allow us to move forward.
Thomas Scott: Like Eeyore on Winnie the Pooh.
Brett Larrabee: Kind of like Eeyore. But Eeyore is the most positive example of a negative person. There’s much worse than even Eeyore.
Thomas Scott: And the franchise industry is full of them.
Brett Larrabee: Yeah. And I think the reality is that some people are just not into what they do. It’s not their wheelhouse. They’re doing it because it’s a job, or they want to make that next commission. And that is all the wrong reason. A sense of enthusiasm has less to do with an artificial peppiness and more to do with this desire to help people. To actually provide something beneficial to another person, and there’s a lot of books written on this.
One I think is called the “Go Give”, I can’t remember if it is “Go Give” or “Go Getter,” but the reality is you have to give more than you get. In order to build a life and a business successfully, you have to be able to provide other people some benefit. Even if you just give some information, some enthusiasm, a relationship, or a sense of friendship. The way I look at this is over the 35 years I’ve done this, a lot of people communicate with me on an ongoing basis decades later. Not because they have to, but because they want to. There’s something about our relationship that is positively influenced. We’ve positively influenced each other. Maybe that’s the true currency of what we do in franchise development – is that sense of relationship and that sense of community that we build over time.
Thomas Scott: You know, it’s interesting, because the genesis of this list was me trying to add a new salesperson to my staff of outsourced sales people. I ended up hiring a hockey coach. He is a young, 30 year old who coach’s travel hockey. He was very interested in having a career in recruiting and sales, but was really a hockey player. So, he brought this like super high positive enthusiasm to his work, because that’s what a lot of athletes do. They can’t really be a competitive athlete without a high sense of positive outlook. People with negative outlooks lose. People with more positive outlooks have the mental fortitude to win most of the time, and they win because they’re positive. People are attracted to that and it’s a really strong quality. I think I’m just going to hire hockey people from now on, it’s been the best move I’ve ever made from a recruitment standpoint.
You know, the next thing on our list, which also kind of fits in with hockey is a high sense of urgency. You have to have somebody who is moving faster. At a very early point in my career, I was at an IFA super session where I listened to the head of franchise development for Hilton Hotels give a speech. Somebody stood up and said, “What are the qualities you look for when you hire a franchise recruiter or a salesperson?” He goes, “Well, I only asked one question.” Everyone was like “One question? That sounds ridiculous.” He says, “I ask if they have speeding tickets. I won’t hire someone if they don’t have speeding tickets.” People started laughing and he said “No, I’m really serious. Like, if you ask all the top performing salespeople in this room, if they have tickets, they’ll almost all have tickets. Those people are going a little faster than everybody else, and they’re so focused on the end result. They’re more results oriented. They get there quicker. They do more. They have a higher sense of urgency to accomplish the mission, whatever it is. I think that’s been true. I’ve seen salespeople that have no sense of urgency allow candidates to drift, and drift kills deals.
What do you think about that quality?
Brett Larrabee: Well, this is something interesting because a sense of urgency is not the negative connotation of “aggressive behavior.” It’s “assertive behavior.” It’s allowing yourself to move with a sense of purpose. To a certain extent, a lot of great salespeople aren’t even aware of this, because that’s just who they are as human beings. The difference between those that are great, and those that are maybe not as great, is the fact that they don’t understand that today is the day to move things forward, and tomorrow almost never comes.
So, when you have somebody in front of you that allows you to communicate with them, who allows you to enter their life and present a positive change, now is the time to create the roadmap to move forward. Now is the time to create the agenda. Not tomorrow. You may not be able to get back on the phone with this client tomorrow.
You know, hockey is a really good parallel for this. You have to move quickly in hockey in order to be where the puck is. The puck is not gonna come to you. I think this is something that is innate in sales, right? You kind of have to know where this conversation or this franchise development process is going. You need to move the client there. They’re not going to move there by themselves. They don’t know how to move there by themselves. A lot of these people haven’t bought a franchise before. They’re not sure how to navigate a FDD, or, navigate the process of going through the financing or the validation phase of your sales process. You really need to help them manifest that and move that forward. Some people need you to walk them through it step-by-step and side-by-side, and that is done with a sense of urgency. It is not done with a sense “Oh, here’s the process. If you’re willing to take the energy to do it yourself, then that will make you a great franchisee.” This idea of self selection is important, but you also need to be the teacher. The person who is providing that context for them to succeed. I think some of the best relationships I’ve had in life, are those people that reach out and say, “Hey Brett. I’m going to show you how to succeed at that.” I may think arrogantly, “I don’t really need that help.” But, I did and I appreciated it.
Thomas Scott: You know, in terms of a sense of urgency and when we tend to think about systems today, and in the work we do here at Brand Journalist, some systems have a culture of development. Some don’t.
When we say a system has a “culture of a development”, then that system, the whole system, all of the leadership oppositely from Ops, everybody, is committed to grow through development. It’s not an either or. It’s not like we’re going to choose development over driving same store sales and increasing positive franchise relationships. These systems are just committed to growing the brand through adding new units, training and supporting new owners and making them successful.
We’ll see systems, and we have seen this with our brands in Home Based Franchise Group, Dryer Vent Squad and Frost Shades, we have deals that close sometimes in three or four weeks from the point of new lead to closed deal. Sometimes it is three or four weeks, sometimes five weeks. I’ve heard you talk about some of the deals you do that are five week deals, even with Little Caesars sometimes. Big, expensive things. It’s the sense of urgency. You really can see, through enough franchise recruitment and enough brands, that there are people who close deals that have very short sales processes. Taheir sales processes are not shoddy. They’re really well thought out. They move people through. They answer questions. People make good decisions. It’s not that the prospects are slow.
Then there are systems where it takes six or nine months. Maybe they will close them, maybe they won’t. They make people hang around on the sidelines for months at a time for no particularly good reason. In that case, everybody lacks that sense of urgency. However, the recruiter is the principal person that drives that.
Brett Larrabee: Right! They are the driver of the bus. So many times the recruiter is placed in a predicament where they have to find, internal alignment, which is elusive, and they need to
get support from different departments, which doesn’t come quickly. Quite honestly, we’ve heard this time and again, that time kills deals. It really does.
Thomas Scott: It does.
Brett Larrabee: Those people that are willing to buy, are really willing to buy now.
Thomas Scott: Now, not tomorrow.
Brett Larrabee: Not later. I’m not saying that you should hurry somebody through the process, or push them through this process. But, you should definitely assertively work to move things forward. Because without that sense of urgency the process lacks energy and it dies on the vine. There’s a lot of competing ideas during a franchise sales process. There’s a lot of personal things that happen in people’s lives that are good, bad and indifferent. You compete with that. Plus, the person that’s looking at your franchise is also looking at a number of other ideas. Your idea has to have the most energy. It has to have the most enthusiasm. It needs to be compelling. It needs to be a life choice of positive association. That is the best way I can explain it. Where you actually want to hang out with these people, because these people are the ones that are most interested in you. That is how you believe in something.
Thomas Scott: You know, you’ll hear people talk about dating and marriage analogies when they’re talking about franchise recruitment to underscore for people to understand the types of relationships that we have.
If you were dating someone, when you were younger, you got excited over the enthusiasm and the positivity of it. You wouldn’t just have one conversation or text a week. You would probably have a couple of conversations the first day, one or two the next day, there would be text messages as it gets its footing. With a franchise it’s not like: Hey, we’re gonna have our first call on this date and I’m going to send you my LinkedIn profile so you could maybe look over it, before we talk next week sometime. That’s ridiculous. Nobody would do that. But that’s the way we handle these people. The truth is, when someone is starting a business, the relationship with their recruiter, if that person is doing a good job, and I see this in my own staff when they get a really good prospect and they get footing, meaning that they’re aligned, and there’s transparency, authenticity, energy and optimism, they’re having four, five or six calls in that week and then another four, five or six and it just moves really fast. It’s not moving fast to your point because they’re pushing them, it is moving fast because it’s a natural progression of human nature. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. Then the next person in the queue, the second salesperson comes along and they’ll have one conversation and I’ll ask them three days later, “what happened with Joe Smith?” And they will say, “Yeah, I need to call him back.” That’s a deal that the salesperson killed.
Brett Larrabee: Yeah. I think there’s this battle between courteous professionalism and those development people who understand the need to get from like, to love quickly.
Thomas Scott: Right!
Brett Larrabee: Those may be corny words to a lot of people. But…
Thomas Scott: You look like the kind of guy that would get to love pretty quickly.
Brett Larrabee: Hahaha. You only want to do business, or you only want to hang out in life with people that you love. You know? Maybe that’s corny, but that’s real.
Thomas Scott: It’s real.
Brett Larrabee: I’m not gonna write a check for $40,000, $50,000 or $100,000 to somebody that I’m not even sure I like. You know, maybe they’re professional. Maybe they have all the great details. But how many times have you gotten all of the facts or the instruction book, but you can’t read it because it’s boring, or it’s not interesting. It doesn’t compel you to comply with its messaging.
Thomas Scott: Right, so messaging is a good segue into the number four kind of thing that we think is mission critical for a recruiter. I would call that storytelling. It is the next thing you would say to somebody to help articulate their future. But the ability of a franchise recruiter to leverage stories and to talk in the form of story format, again coming from a journalism background, stories are the way humans communicate. The stories are the way we make sense of the world around us. They’re how we relate to one another. They’re how you make decisions in life. Stories have a way of helping us orient to ideas. Just like when somebody meets you, and they learn that your wife likes to break all the plates in the kitchen and she yells at you, which is a really humorous story that I can’t really unhear. Now that’s forever part of my whole relationship with you as a person. So, when we see really good recruiters, they’re not selling stuff. They’re just telling enthusiastic stories.
It is like “Let me tell you about our Frost Shades, the window tinting franchise that we’re growing, how it is having a great year.” Let me tell you about “How many windows there are on a typical Street.” Let me tell you about “this franchisee in DC who on their first day went out and did a $20,000 job from the Washington Redskins, just out of the blue.” Then let me share how it happened. You just tell the story. Nothing other than a real, factual story of a day in the life of this business. Tell a story about the founder. Tell a story about franchisees that are similar to the particular person you’re talking with. Stories are what help people see the future and see themselves in that future.
If you listen to a lot of calls, storytelling is not very common. In a lot of sales calls for they’re just reading bullet points and bombarding people with the story in the way that they think it needs to go out.
So, what do you mean by storytelling?
Brett Larrabee: Look, I think people don’t want to be told anything. I think they want something compelling and interesting that creates the context for them to make a great decision. One of the ways that we do this now in the current reality is: we get on our iPhone and we look at the news. The great journalists of today know how to bring people into a story. They know how to create interest. They know how to create an opportunity for somebody to learn perspective.
Regardless of what that story is about, they pull you into another world for a few minutes. Then you see yourself in that context. Great franchise sales people learn how to tell a story that involves the prospect in a way that they could see themself in the context of that business. They might not say that implicitly, but they know how to talk to people in a way that’s genuine and honest, which gives them an idea in their head that says, “Hey! I could do that. I could see myself being a part of this. This makes sense.” It’s always that aha moment that we all have as kids on the beach when we find a treasure, or crab under a rock, or whatever it is that makes us go, “Oh! Well, that’s where it is. That’s, that’s where the fun lies in all this.” Storytelling gets you to that place where you have that aha moment and where you can connect your reality with the franchise development person’s business mindset. You create those connections. That’s what stories do. They take other contexts in life and they give you an opportunity to build a bridge to other people.
Thomas Scott: That’s really all franchise recruitment is. It is a series of conversations full of stories. But a good one. A good, solid, tactical and efficient story. You don’t move people along by pushing them, you pull them along by giving them stories that help them understand what it looks like, what it feels like, and it answers their questions without you selling them as much. To your point, nobody wants to be sold. Nobody wants to talk to a mattress salesperson, or car salesman. When you’re a storyteller, you take yourself out of the equation. It’s not about you. It’s about the story which is about another person. It becomes “Let me share with you. Let me explain kind of how it works.” Then it is “What do you think about that?” And they say “That’s kind of cool. “I was really amazed when that happened.” Then you can say “Here’s something that happened last week.”
Walls come down when you storytell. It’s the basis of all the lead generation we do with content marketing, conversational marketing and conversational lead generation for Brand Journalist. It is absolutely the way that you should focus on this type of business.
Brett Larrabee: One way I like to explain this to other franchise development people is that: objections are either intentional, or are kind of couched in conversation. Instead of creating a context of arguing why those objections are right or wrong, stories allow you an emotionally intelligent way to connect with people without creating conflict. You’re allowing them to win. What they’re telling you is their reality, and you need to connect with their reality.This is why the Curiosity thing is so important. If you don’t fully understand their reality, how are you going to connect with them? How are you going to tell them the right stories? How are you going to give them the context, the bridge if you will, to move to your position.
Thomas Scott: Yeah, and if you’re curious, and you ask the right questions, they’ll tell you exactly what stories they’re looking for. So, it makes a franchise recruitment process much simpler if you follow these guidelines.
This brings us to our last kind of key quality of a franchise recruiter that you have to have to be successful. It is just the sense of being disciplined. You have to be able to help somebody move through the process. You need the discipline to make the calls. You need the discipline to be there and be fully present for the person.
What do you mean when you say you have to be disciplined?
Brett Larrabee: You know, a lot of franchise development people are great at getting on the phone, setting up the next call and moving through the process. But they’re not great at being directional. There’s a time that we all have in every franchise development process where we know it’s time to ask the prospect to move forward, and to do it now. Often people don’t pull that trigger. They don’t tell people it’s time to move forward. The prospect is looking for that direction. They’re looking for you to take the wheel and to move this process forward. When you don’t, they will simply wait for that to happen. Oftentimes, it never happens. Because the assumption is that the prospect is going to make that decision.
Maybe that’s the case, but often not often. Often the prospect is buying a franchise because they want people to help them through this process. Your job is to be directional. To have the discipline to create that opportunity to close. Time and again I’ve watched franchise development people just talk right past that opportunity.
Thomas Scott: Oh yeah. They just get in their own mind and they have an agenda, and they don’t realize they totally missed the hook they needed to move someone through.
Discipline also means just being disciplined to make calls. It means to have the structure that it takes to connect with people. It means being able to sift through the leads. We get really frustrated. If you’re a lead generator like we are, we see really good quality deals fall through the cracks because salespeople don’t want to make the calls or they don’t want to be bothered sometimes with the hard work. Some of this business is just plain and simple: hard work.
What do you think about discipline on the front end of the pipeline?
Brett Larrabee: Well, discipline on the front end has a lot to do with the conversation you have as a franchise development person in your head. If you’re telling yourself that the next call you’re going to make is just another waste of time…it’s just another
Thomas Scott: portal lead or Facebook lead
Brett Larrabee: whatever, you know, you’re telling yourself “it’s rainy today,” “it’s too close to Christmas,” “it’s Easter,” “it’s New Year’s,” “it’s Valentine’s Day,” you make the excuse. There’s 1000 reasons not to pick up the phone or communicate with the next prospect. But, some of the best franchise development people just have their time that they are going to make calls. They get in their head that this is what they’re going to do, and they’re going to do it now. They don’t find 1000 reasons to make it not work.
Thomas Scott: No, they’re not listening to records in their head. The stories that franchise recruiters make up about… it’s as if there are 100 people in a room and they all get together and say, “Okay, we’re all going to be franchise portal leads today.” 76 of us are going to go into the witness protection program and never answer the phone or talk to the person, so, we’re going to go to this side of the room. 10 of us are going to say we have a lot of money, but we really don’t.
If you talk to franchise recruiters, that’s the way they view large numbers of leads. It’s like there’s some connection between each person and they have a conspiracy to doom this franchise sales effort. The truth is every single person is a unique person. When you talk to a really fabulous person like yourself, or Lori Osley at Sonic who does an amazing job. She gets 300 or 400 leads a month and she calls every single lead herself. She doesn’t use a lead screener. She does amazing work at that brand because she puts in the effort to see every person. She has amazing results over long periods of time where people that she talks to two years prior come back after they’re financially qualified and end up becoming owners.
That willingness to see each person as a unique person, and the discipline to reach out to them even when you do run into runs where nobody has money or it’s Christmas, or Easter, or New Year’s or whatever, who cares. This is the business we’re in. We are reaching out and talking to people and getting traction with the ones we can, and not really worrying too much about the ones we can’t. Just always having the discipline to stay focused and positive. You just have that kind of sense that the one person you’re talking to is the one person that could buy a franchise and is trying to change their life through business ownership.
Brett Larrabee: Absolutely. Many times, it’s timing. Maybe, you call that person at the wrong time of day. Or it could be the wrong whatever. But having the discipline to go back and give people a second chance, to think through why people may not be reacting positively to you all of the time, in an objective way, allows you as a franchise development person to just kind of be a kinder soul and give people a chance to buy.
Again, I would say most people that are looking to buy a franchise need somebody to be directional and help them through the process. They don’t know what the process is or what it looks like. They’re not sure if you’re a good person or a bad person. They’re looking for you to show them the way, and that only happens through some level of a disciplined approach. Add some curiosity, some positivity and a real sense of allowing people to win. I think that’s really the sum of this.
Thomas Scott: That’s good, because it’s been a great conversation. Just to summarize, we discussed the five qualities we think are essential for someone today and it’s worth evaluating your current recruiters or anybody you would interview for a job. Number one was curiosity with a high sense of enthusiasm, number two was someone with a high level of positivity, someone with a high sense of urgency was number three. Number four is someone who is a form of a natural storyteller, who has the ability to leverage stories to help people understand abstract concepts. Lastly, discipline. Someone who just has the discipline to do this job without excuses or without negative narratives.
Brett, thank you so much for joining us today. Hopefully someone can get some value out of this. This is a core topic that I think anybody in franchise development needs to ponder on and think about because it’s the key to creating a performance breakthrough.
Brett Larrabee: No, thank you.
Thomas Scott: Good deal.
Is Your Visual Storytelling Effective?
Video is an integral part of sales automation
When I first started out in franchising, websites were the hot, new thing and video was not on anyone’s radar. But over the last few years, a titanic shift has moved vast amounts of information and customer engagement to video.
We can thank sites like YouTube and Vimeo for this shift. Web surfers today are simply accustomed to seeing and watching videos. In fact, 85% of internet users report watching informational videos while researching products or services.
Franchising is anything but immune from the video phenomenon. Potential franchisees are serious consumers of video content on franchise websites, and they’re viewing increasingly polished, professional, and often award-winning productions.
But when it comes to producing video content, where should you take your company? Brand Journalists knows where franchisors can get the most bang for their video production dollars. Here are three rules to consider when exploring your company’s video options.
Rule #1: Content Quality Matters
When it comes to online video production, the first and most important consideration is quality. That means quality of content as well as production.
When you’re producing videos to represent your brand, it’s vital that you have people who present your brand’s story, your mission, and your culture well. People should look and sound professional, while embodying a more casual tone.
While it’s vital that the content in your videos is delivered professionally, we also tell clients to avoid a tightly scripted video. Instead, your videos should be much more conversational and must fit the culture of your brand.
If you’re a business-to-business services company and your videos feature a lot of informal banter, balloons, or other light-hearted content, they won’t sound authentics. But, if the business is a trampoline park and everyone in the videos are in suits and ties, that’s just as disconcerting for viewers.
So when you’re planning out your videos with a video production company, make sure you are accurately representing your brand and your culture.
Rule #2: Quality video production does not have to break the bank
Think about your most recent foray into internet video. Which ones did you watch through to the end? Chances are you were most engaged with conversational videos that had the same polish and quality of a well-produced documentary or news broadcast.
Video production quality matters to your brand as much as the quality of the content the videos contain. So, as you work to share your brand story through video, provide viewers with professionally produced content.
Be cautions against “video bling.” Just because the production company has the coolest toys, doesn’t mean they produce the best videos.
Yes, quality production requires the right equipment – cameras, lights, microphones, and more, but that’s not where good video stops. The real quality of video content happens in the editing process, where skilled craftsmen take the raw video and make it tell the story you want in a way that connects visually with the audience.
For our clients, the results speak for themselves. Each video our clients receive incorporates best practices from both advertising and filmmaking to create a rich, viewer-centered visual experience that engages potential customers and keeps them engaged.
Rule #3: Your videos should tell your story
The final major rule for online videos is that they need to tell a story – your brand’s story, to be specific. Often, brand videos get bogged down in details about technological innovations, financial benefits, or the sales pitch. That’s the wrong approach.
The videos that connect most, that impact most, that convert to leads, they tell a story that is personal and connects with the viewer. Yes, we’ll include details about support, technology, market size, customer acquisition and CRMs, but we position all of that as tools in the brand’s story. This methodology allows the individual on the other side of the screen to connect with all of those details in a way that putting them in a high pressure sales pitch wouldn’t.
As you begin to consider the impact quality video production could have on your sales automation process, ask yourself what your brand story is and how you could use that to help guide potential leads to become your next franchise owner.
See How We Convert Viewers Into Buyers Through Storytelling
Ready to explore video production on your franchise site?
If your franchise opportunity is ready to kick your video up to the next level, Brand Journalists can help. Contact us today to see how we can help you employ quality video production to tell your brand story.
Brand Journalists’ President Talks Persona Marketing 101
What it is and what it isn’t
A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about sales automation and how websites are a key component of the contemporary sales process. A website is supposed to take the place of that first, hour-long phone conversation.
One way websites are connecting with visitors is through a relatively new concept in advertising, persona marketing. Virtually every advertising agency will claim they’re using persona marketing of some kind. But ask them to explain it to you, and more times than not you’ll hear a lot of “ums,” if not outright silence.
That’s because persona marketing is quite misunderstood. So, I wanted to take just a couple minutes to share with you some insights on persona marketing, explain what persona marketing is and what it isn’t and highlight how effective persona marketing can help you convert visitors into leads and leads into sales.
It starts with a question
On its face, persona marketing seems quite simple. At the heart of this technique is a single, simple question: who is your product’s buyer?
One of the questions I ask in our franchise discovery process is “Who is your ideal franchisee?” I’m never surprised by the answers, and usually, the franchise management team has a pretty good idea of who they’re looking for.
A QSR restaurant says they’re looking for seasoned, multi-unit operators who are looking to add an exciting new brand to their portfolio. A home services company says they’re looking for a mid-career contractor who wants to grow his/her business even larger. But after I ask that question and get the answers, we go a step further.
We look at the brand’s most recent buyers, and I’m never surprised when I find that the buyers of the brand are quite frequently not who the brand managers are looking for—or at least not who they say they’re looking for.
What persona marketing isn’t
Before we determine what persona marketing is, let’s take a look at what it isn’t, because what it isn’t is what most marketing and lead generation firms are selling.
The typical approach is to take the list of people who bought your product or who you want to buy your product and lump them together. So middle-aged males who work in construction become a “persona” called “middle-aged males.” Women who own juice bars become “Women who own juice bars.”
Then, with these “personas,” the agency builds AdWords profiles and PPC campaigns to target individuals in these two groups. Unfortunately, this approach takes you no closer to marketing to that group than does throwing darts into a crowd.
So how should persona marketing work? Thankfully, at Brand Journalists, we’re really good at identifying your personas, as you’ll see.
What is “Persona Marketing?”
Persona marketing is an approach to marketing in which you distill who your customers are or who you want as customers down to a set of identities. Most frequently, persona marketing focuses on pairs of personas or quads of personas.
Each persona is quite specific. Here is an example of an effective persona:
Steve, 45, is a mid-career construction superintendent with three kids and a stay-at-home wife who wants to open a yoga studio. Steve’s net worth is $500,000, but he has a hefty mortgage and two of the kids are about to go off to college. Steve is looking to take his career and his income to the next level to provide his family with the lifestyle they deserve.
Note how specific this is. We understand a lot about “Steve” and his goals and situation. More importantly, though, we all know Steve and we understand Steve. So, how does this impact a sales automation process? Here is an example of a blog headline and lead to grab Steve’s attention.
Build a legacy to be proud of with ConstructionX Brand
For more than twenty years, homeowners have trusted ConstructionX with their homes. For entrepreneurs, ConstructionX means doing a job you can be proud of and building the kind of lasting legacy your family will appreciate.
Automatically, we’re talking directly to Steve – and every other Steve out there. Because we’ve identified very specific details of the audience member, we are able to plug directly into powerfully persuasive sales while also tapping into the emotional states of potential franchise owners.
When a Brand Journalist writer is writing a piece targeted at Steve, they reach out to franchise owners like Steve for quotes or insights. They position the piece with the details that someone like Steve would appreciate.
Persona marketing is a powerful tool in your sales automation process
Persona marketing is a valuable tool, but it’s only as valuable as the team executing it. Brand Journalists can help you identify potential franchise owners and to connect with them through persona marketing.
To find out how our vertically integrated franchise lead generation program can benefit your franchise system, drop me an email today. I look forward to hearing from you.