It struck me as I traversed the NEC recently that Franchisors seem to attend our trade shows as a chore and are only there because they are scared of not showing their faces and possibly being viewed as not part of the franchise establishment. Indeed, one franchisor I spoke to said just that – “we have to be here to be seen, even if we know we are unlikely to recruit from here!”
Attending a franchise show as an exhibitor is often justified by the saying “we just need one sale to make it worthwhile!” I am sure you measure your own ROI but do you really attract people to your system that just through happenstance saw your stand and said to themselves “Wow! This is just what I have been looking for!”
Perhaps you have been that lucky but in today’s world we have much more sophisticated and informed franchise buyers than yesteryear and the reality is that most people do their research on the internet without you even knowing that they are looking at you. I attended a LinkedIn event and during that event they cited a statistic that says 60% of buying decisions are made before the person even contacts you! What this means is that your prospects are checking you out long before they finally speak with you.
So, what is the chance that someone walking past your stand on a wet Saturday morning is right for your system? Tiny odds really, but the fear of not being there plays on your mind so each year you allocate a good chunk of your marketing budget to being at one or more of the franchise shows. How’s that working for you?
A number of exhibitors I spoke to seemed stuck in a rut with regard to their franchise marketing cycle and not knowing what to do, so just doing more of the same is their answer. When I ask them how they are really doing most are struggling to generate sufficient leads that can help them deliver their targets and most admit that they consistently fail to reach their franchise recruitment goals each year. When I ask then why attend the franchise shows it is to generate leads and gather names and then feed them into their marketing funnel to track down in the coming days and weeks. If that is you, then now you know that the follow up from the 40 or so names you gathered recently is just about to start. If it didn’t work for you last year what is so different about this year?
The smarter exhibitors use franchise shows as an event to make appointments with prospects on their stand – not just "oh, pop by and see us, we are on stand D123” but actually make hard and fast appointments for people to turn up on their stand and discuss the opportunity. In the six weeks running up to a show you should be using your investment wisely and marketing to your existing leads to make sure that those couple of days are put to good use, where your prospects can meet you easily in a non-threatening environment. Your pre-show marketing to your leads should be about just that and the great benefit is on the day your stand looks busy and interesting and not forlorn with you or your team loitering on the edge of your stand trying to catch the eye of another uninterested prospect or sat down looking bored!
How many franchisors despair at the thought of standing up for another two days trying to catch that unicorn who might, just might, pass by their stand. Wouldn’t you rather have two enjoyable days meeting real prospects who are interested in your brand?
Am I saying don’t attend and exhibit at franchise shows? Absolutely not! What I am saying is know what your objective from your investment is – it’s a platform to meet prospects that probably already know of you, it probably isn’t a platform to find people that don’t know of you previously – remember buyers are more sophisticated, they haven’t spent hours travelling to the show on the whim of being inspired by ‘something they might see’. We have all had the ‘prospect’ who wanders by your stand at 3.45 on Saturday afternoon and wants to talk for ages but really has little else to do and really isn’t going to buy your franchise – but being polite and professional you nod your head and talk to them in the vain hope that they will be interested – and as soon as they are gone you know it was a waste of your time - we have all been there.
So, make it a wise investment and not a hopeful one next time because hope is not a smart franchise recruitment strategy.
How can I help? As an experienced franchisor and recruiter we work with selected clients to create marketing campaigns that give them a consistent flow of unique leads each month that complement their other sources of leads. By providing clients with a regular flow of leads they are more likely to meet their franchise targets which means that they can grow their network faster. To find out more take a look at our website at www.FT10.co.uk - and when you feel you have done 60% of your research looking at us give us a call so that we can discuss it further!