“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
If you’re a part of a franchise development team that has been halted due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time to let out a long sigh of relief. Things are looking up! Unique marketing opportunities are beginning to present themselves that your team can take advantage of during this unpredictable time. As search volume for franchise opportunities increases and prices for media has decreased, now is the time to capitalize and pivot so that you can get ahead of your competition.
Here are three advantages for franchise development marketing campaigns that will empower you and your team to turn the marketing lights back on so that you can fill your pipeline with interest and close some deals.
1. Interest is there and people are searching for franchise opportunities again.
Despite these unique and challenging times, now is proving to be a great opportunity for franchise brands looking to grow. After seeing Google search volume for queries that include the terms franchise and opportunities (related queries include franchise opportunities in 2019, franchise opportunities near me, franchise opportunities under $100,000, etc.) bottom out towards the end of March, it has been steadily rebounding this past month to stable levels. Additionally, we are seeing the percentage variance between the search interest in 2019 versus 2020 decrease from the weekly averages in April as compared to May. This means that intent is out there! Prospects are actively looking for opportunities, making this a great time to capitalize on this increase in user intent, particularly during a time when some brands have stopped advertising.
Interest Over Time – Franchise Opportunities Search Terms
Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the United States in 2019 and 2020. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.
2. Competition is lower and media is less expensive!
With certain segments of brands pausing franchise development advertising within the digital space, competition across paid media platforms has declined significantly. According to Natalie Wendel, Director of Digital for Hot Dish Advertising, “For our partners that provide essential services and continued to advertise during the peak of the pandemic, we’ve seen decreases in cost-per-click for their paid social campaigns between 22% and 52% since the beginning of March, leading to significant savings on their cost per lead.”
We see similar results for other industries outside of the essential services sector. For example, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, the nation’s leading fast-casual cafe concept, saw a 30% decrease in cost per click for branded paid search, going from $7.86 in January/February to $5.51 in May.
Digital marketing isn’t the only media where brands can capitalize on media for franchise development efforts. Look at your entire marketing plan for ways to save your budget. For example, now is a great time to negotiate pricing for custom eblasts, print ads and sponsorships with publishers within your industry. There’s more ad inventory available and less demand, so your publisher may be willing to give you an additional price break as they continue to struggle to fill ad space left behind when brands pulled ads and paused media.
3. Trade shows and Discovery Days are being canceled, now what?
As companies across the globe continue to encourage employees to work from home and social distancing is still protocol, physical events like trade shows, conferences and Discovery Days have been rescheduled or canceled all together. The best way to compensate for leads you otherwise would have picked up at these in-person events is to go virtual.
Consider a more strategic use of virtual events by sponsoring or speaking on a panel during a virtually hosted event, or even consider hosting one of your own. No matter which way you go, focus on bringing your brand to life by giving attendees a memorable digital experience that sets you apart from the competition. Look for ways that give your audience a clear understanding of your brand and keep the content concise, succinct and informative.
Our client Pet Supplies Plus wouldn’t let the coronavirus put a damper on their Meet The Team Day. Instead of inviting prospects to their corporate office to meet their leadership team and learn more about the strategy behind running the business, they held it online.
“The content was digestible, and it was supported with the right visuals and details. They got it right. I had no doubt at the end that I was going to proceed,” said one prospect (now proud Pet Supplies Plus Franchise Owner) after attending their virtual Meet The Team Day.
Get creative as you connect with your prospects by giving them an inside look at a part of your business they may not have had the chance to see otherwise—like meeting more members from your team or a behind-the-scenes look at one of your processes—that make your brand special. Send a sample product to top prospects, along with a physical invite to your digital event to give them a tangible touchpoint with your brand. Measures like this allow your audience to interact with your brand in multiple ways, just like they could during in-person events. When done right, your virtual event can be just as captivating, and just as successful, as if you were face-to-face.
While COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders have adversely affected many franchise brands, there are still opportunities to capitalize on the return of interest in franchising and the low amount of competition. If you’re looking to develop your brand, contact Hot Dish Advertising, the top Franchise Marketing Agency. We can help develop your strategy and messaging to enable you to thrive in these challenging times, and for years to come.