When it comes to generating leads and brand awareness, nothing is as powerful as smart PR! Great article in Global Franchise Magazine: Vice President Debra Vilchis of our US partners Fishman PR shares her knowledge and experience.
You’d better believe it!
And these days it’s not just word of mouth you have to worry about. The likes of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook never sleep. Boundaries have been broken down and now anyone can (and will) share their views and experiences with others, be it good, bad or ugly.
We often make the mistake of thinking that we’re smarter than the people we’re selling to. Fall into this trap at your peril. Today’s buyers are savvy and are on the lookout for any hint of negativity or unrest in the network or potential problems with the product or service they’ll be expected to provide.
What is bad news?
Different issues cause concern for different people so ‘bad news’ can mean one of many things. Disgruntled franchisees, dissatisfied customers, poor sales, a stagnant network. None of it is a laughing matter and ALL of it is guaranteed to have a negative impact on your franchise recruitment and growth.
Things go wrong, they’re bound to from time to time. Addressing them quickly and directly is crucial for a positive resolution. Particularly if it’s initiated publicly. The key in this situation is not to panic and not to let emotions rule common sense or good business strategy. Dealt with correctly, even a mistake can be turned into a positive PR effort.
PR = Public Relations, so remember:
Be polite at all times: rudeness will immediately damage your brand and reputation. Be polite, not condescending and try to genuinely relate to the party feeling injured to understand what went wrong and how you can fix it.
Respond with facts: this can’t be stressed enough. Facts and facts only. Not opinion and not an emotional response other than to express an apology for inconvenience. Respond with what you know, not what you assume.
Apologise if you got it wrong: crucial for public image. Know when to say sorry. You’ll be amazed at how this can diffuse a situation.
Small gestures go a long way: be seen to be trying to put the situation right. Money isn’t always the answer. Understanding your customer profile will help you to offer a solution that will be best received.
When managed correctly, these resolutions are just as powerful as your good news and success stories. They clearly demonstrate that as a brand and as a franchisor you are open, honest and, most importantly, care about those that you do business with.
You could be forgiven for wondering how this fits into your franchise recruitment strategy. Well, the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what you’re spending on print, exhibitions, online listings or eshots in order to entice prospects into your pipeline. If things fall down at due diligence stage then it’s been a waste of money, pure and simple.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about managing and utilising PR to rev up your franchise recruitment.
But do you know how to harness the most powerful recruitment tool available to you?
Good news and success stories are incredibly useful for franchise recruitment and also to maintain a buoyant consumer market. It’s as close to stating the obvious as we’ll get but being able to take a step back and identify the positives in your network is something that a lot of franchisors tell us that they struggle with.
It’s a simple concept that’s not always easy to execute. In order to progress smoothly and with any real pace or purpose, prospects need to see and hear relevant positive stories at every stage of the recruitment process. Here are a few easy tips to help you to do just that:
Give them a reason to compliment you: believe it or not, a happy by-product of social media is that people are more inclined to offer praise and compliments when they have a great experience. So give them one! Ensure your social media forms part of your PR campaigns, interact with prospects and customers without trying to sell to them. You’ll be amazed what comes out.
Blow your own trumpet: franchisee smashed their sales target? Products won awards? Helped a family achieve their ‘mortgage free’ dream? Shout about it. Press releases and case studies should be used to promote these positive stories at every stage of the process. Being able to identify with an existing franchisee and see themselves emulating that success is one of the most powerful tools of persuasion for converting a prospect.
Make it about them, not you: people will buy because of what your brand can do for them. Not you. It’s great if you’ve had multiple sign ups or beaten your own targets but that shouldn’t be the main focus for your PR. Instead focus on how those that have already bought your franchise have benefitted and how those who haven’t yet, stand to.
Happy customers = happy franchisees: What makes a happy customer? Great products and great service. Your franchisees will undoubtedly be providing both so you need to help them really get ahead by pushing that message out to the rest of the world. Linking consumer PR to franchise recruitment is a trick some franchisors are still missing. Boosting brand awareness amongst target consumers will ultimately lead to more sales for franchisees. And have you met a franchisee with a profitable, growing business who is likely to give negative feedback to anyone at due diligence stage? Didn’t think so.
So what am I saying today? Using PR effectively is about more than just understanding what you need to say; you have to know when to say it too. So, remember to look for those positive stories. And once you have them, feed them into focused PR campaigns that hit prospects in the right place at the right time.
To make the most of the successes happening within your network (or to get help finding them!) contact us for more information at email@example.com
How can PR really make a difference to a franchisor’s peace of mind? Well, do you ever get that niggling feeling when a prospect gets to due diligence stage? Maybe you’re not quite sure what mood your franchisees will be in when they get that call from your prospect? Will they rave about the business and their success or not?
If you have faith in your recruitment process, have the best franchisees in your network, communicate well between you and have a great product or service, then there is just one more thing you need to complete the jigsaw – sales. Sales come from brand awareness and customers feeling the need to buy – so how do you draw those customers in?
We’ve all heard the facts and a recent Neilsen survey said that 84% of global respondents across 58 countries still consider word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family as the most influential driver for them to buy. Closely linked with personal recommendation are online consumer reviews at 68% and editorial content such as newspaper articles at 67%.
So the next question is, how do you get your brand recommended, in consumer reviews and published in the media?
PR gets people talking about you! Decide on the story you are going to tell about your brand and then get telling it! Send it everywhere: blogs, social media, print and online press, broadcast media – anywhere that you customers will get to hear it. Refer back to my blog “PR Power” to get more ideas on what your story could be and how to tell it.
And don’t forget, you can’t build brand awareness with a one-hit wonder! Many people think of PR as huge stunts, events or a single press release but an effective PR campaign is much more than a single activity. You need to plan your PR campaign for the long-term, repeating your brand messages in fun, engaging and informative ways.
And to all those media salesmen out there who wish to battle their corner – don’t worry! Traditional print advertising is actually gaining in trust by consumers – in 2011 a similar Neilsen study showed 56% of respondents trusted this form of advertising “completely” or “somewhat” whereas latest figures show this has increased to 61%. In fact, my advice is not to cut out advertising and replace solely with PR, it is just to distinctly separate the two so they are clearly defined and work well as a combination of complimentary marketing and PR activities.
Contact us to find out how you can rev up your PR.