Marketing Expertise How did we leave that out ? BY JIM BENDER
If you have been around the franchise
sales profession for more than just a cup of coffee , you personally know , or have been told repeatedly , that the decision to invest in a franchise is far greater than buying furniture , fixtures , equipment , and software . The investment in a franchise is about fulfilling personal goals , whether achieving a lifestyle , leaving a legacy , or resolving a particular event in life .
To make the monumental and lifechanging decision to invest in any franchise concept , a candidate must envision how to apply their personal assets — knowledge , experience , and money — to a franchise model , the success of which will support their lifestyle , legacy , or resolution .
So how does this happen ? Over the years , my largest , multi-unit franchise owner regularly repeated a favorite line that answers our question well . He would say , “ Jim , nothing happens till somebody sells something .” And how do franchise owners sell things ? They attract customers through effective marketing strategies ranging from face-toface sales to online ordering , depending upon the model .
While often refined by franchise owners , most effective strategies are developed by the brand , a capability I refer to as knowing how to “ put butts in the seats .” Franchise candidates buy the marketing knowledge , experience , and expertise of the brand . Yet , as we all know , more franchise candidates are qualified to learn operating systems , customer sales , or service than how to develop successful marketing strategies . Perhaps this is best supported by the consternation that exists between franchise owner and franchisor over the marketing fund spend or the claim that marketing strategies “ do not work in my market .”
Why is it then , that as franchise sales professionals , the topic we spend the least amount of time on is marketing expertise ? A telltale sign : Does marketing training even appear on the new owner training curriculum under Item 11 ?
Far too often , the marketing presentation given during the franchise sales process highlights only the services provided by marketing staff , such as identifying local promotional opportunities , cost / inquiry analysis , adapting the annual / national promotional calendar to local market conditions , or grand opening support . While all are great topics that require review , they are not sufficiently powerful to demonstrate how our marketing knowledge is the point
Most effective strategies are developed by the brand , a capability I refer to as knowing how to “ put butts in the seats .”
of differentiation for our brand and franchise model . As a result , candidates simply bundle “ marketing ” under “ franchisor support services ” and continue to search for a compelling reason to join .
The topics we typically fail to discuss are : How do we know what we know about our target customer , and what do we know about influencing their behavior ? Most important , how does our influence over their behavior create a positive return ? Stated more bluntly , “ We know how to put butts in the seats and are willing to share that information with you .”
When reviewing the franchise development programs of most new clients , from zero franchise owners to emerging brands to hundreds of locations , they are remarkably silent on the topic of marketing expertise . Throughout the sales process — and especially during program review and again at discovery day — they should present the following :
• The brand vision and values ( and no , it is not your product or service ), how we communicate it , and how franchise owners are expected to support that vision .
• The specific market niche the brand occupies in terms of audience , product , or service benefit .
• What we know about target consumers , how we know it , and how we back it up .
• How we can influence the target consumer ’ s behavior .
• How we quantify the results of marketing strategies and activities .
• How we transfer marketing expertise to franchise owners on an ongoing basis .
Likewise , franchisors are qualifying the marketing expertise of each candidate by gauging : 1 ) their understanding , agreement , and buy-in of the brand ’ s vision and values they will represent to consumers ; 2 ) their commitment to funding and consistent execution of marketing strategies ; and 3 ) their past sales and marketing experience relevant to the business model .
Of the thousands of hours we spent with candidates in 2016 , we devoted the majority of our time together to reviewing the marketing expertise of the brand they selected . Once that is established as the key point of differentiation among the competition , we reinforce how the brand ’ s marketing capability is the driving force behind best-in-class average unit volume , operations , and profitability .
In our experience , a sales program that has a sharp , consistent focus on the marketing capabilities that drive unit success and profitability is the most compelling of all franchise presentations . This year we plan to spend even more time unveiling each brand ’ s marketing expertise .
It does not take long to audit a sales program . How do you present the marketing capabilities of your brand ( if at all )? Is it the review of a laundry list of support services , or a demonstration of the driving force behind your success ? Do candidates believe the brand has the marketing expertise and experience to help them achieve their goals ?
Knowing how to put butts in the seats doesn ’ t just apply to selling a product or service , it applies to all of us in the development business as well .
Happy Selling , Jim
Jim Bender is president and owner of Franchise System Builders . He has been in the franchise business for more than 35 years and has provided clients with sales outsourcing and concept packaging services since 2002 . Contact him at jtbender @ franchisesystembuilders . com or 248-647-1989 .