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You have a website. It's well executed and presents pertinent and persuasive information about the franchise you're offering (or it should!). Maximize the odds of people seeing it when they search the Internet.
Submit your site to the major search engines: Google, Yahoo and MSN search. They're responsible for most of the search engine traffic that you can get because they also power other search engines, such as AOL.com. Each search engine has a page where you can submit your site. This is a free service. It won't guarantee placement, but it certainly helps.
Directories are also important. They're different from search engines because all website submissions are reviewed by humans. The most important of these directories is The Open Directory Project at www.dmoz.org.
In addition to the major players, do your own search for search engines and directories that are topic or industry specific.
You may want to ask your web developer what else can be done to optimize your site for search engines.
If you don't already have a website, now is the time to create one. Even if it's only a couple pages you should still have an Internet presence. Most prospective franchisees are doing their research online, and you can bet your competitor's sales information will be there!
Make a page dedicated to franchise information. Make it friendly, professional and informative. Don't give away confidential information and don't slam the competition, but do sell your business.
You should at least include the process for acquiring a franchise, a description of support you will provide, what makes you unique, legal disclaimers and a live contact sheet or application. Make it easy for your leads to find you and submit their information!
Google and Overture both offer Internet pay-per-click advertising programs. Google is the more well known provider. If you decide to advertise your franchise opportunity with Google's program AdWords (or any other pay-per-click program), be sure to carefully research it. It is easy to get started, and there is high visibility, but costs can get out of hand if you're targeting too broadly or not actively monitoring the program. There are also several online businesses that specialize in helping you create and manage AdWords campaigns.
The Google site gives an overview of AdWords:
Internet marketing is a booming business. It is no longer just – or even mainly – for established brands. It is an excellent tool for new franchisors and there are many options to be considered. One is large franchise advertising portals. These sites advertise franchises that are for sale. For a fee they will list your franchise and include a contact form for the prospective lead to complete. The form will be sent to you electronically and you are then responsible for evaluating the lead. You can target geographically and filter leads for available capital and/or planned start date. The more filters you use, the more expensive the lead.
Many of the sites charge on a per-lead basis. This fee can range from $17 to $50 per lead, depending on the filters and volume you specify. Most sites require at least a 6-month contract and you may specify the maximum number of leads you want to pay for per month.
There are several companies that analyze the effectiveness and value of Franchise Portals. eMaximation rates the top 20 franchise portals providing domestic U.S. leads. The top 5 portals are: Franchise Direct, Franchise For Sale, Franchise Gator, Franchise Opportunities and Franchise Solutions Network.
If you're going to use a franchise portal, request and compare quotes and terms from several providers. Don't limit yourself to the top 5. Negotiate until you get the package you want.
It's very tempting to put your franchise advertisement in a national publication. After all, you don't know exactly where your franchisee is located. A national publication reaches everyone.
And that's the problem. Advertising nationally means you're going to get leads in markets you're not interested in entering. It also means you will get leads in states where your franchise is not registered. Your attorney can teach you how to deal with those prospects and give you estimates of the time and fees required to register, but you're still spending your limited time chasing leads that may not be feasible instead of focusing on viable candidates
Another downside to national advertising is the number of companies who use national ads as leads for their own sales program, their advertising media, their personal agenda. It's frequently a scam, and again, it takes a lot of your limited time answering calls that aren't leads.
If you do decide that national advertising is for you, be prepared to spend a lot of money. It's not unreasonable to spend $2,000 for a 2” x 2” black and white text ad.
To attract excellent prospects and recruit them you must determine your business' unique features and benefits and then express them through cleverly worded ads, appropriate sales brochures and effective phone and mail follow-up programs. All this effort is intended to obtain an interview with a qualified prospective franchisee.
Before you begin your advertising campaign, establish a budget and goals. There are many methods for recruiting franchisees and it's very easy to get spread too thin and lose sight of your goal. Some media to consider are: business or trade magazines, newspapers, direct mail, trade shows, seminars, online brokers and broadcast media.
Don't forget to create a system for monitoring the effectiveness of your franchisee recruitment process. You'll need data to be able to refine your campaign. You should analyze the media used to determine which proves the most qualified leads, and should evaluate leads to determine which leads produce the most interviews and sales.