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Making progress on your new year’s resolutions?


Mark Siebert

Each and every year, 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and more commonly than not, by February, they’re broken and long forgotten.

For many, life gets in the way of budgeting smarter, focusing on relationships, taking better care of your health, and getting organized. For franchisors, however, making and tracking these resolutions is the key to assessing the overall health of the business and making progress in the new year and beyond.

Hopefully, when considering the goals for 2017, you have set realistic expectations and have budgeted for your marketing program accordingly. Of course, defining the appropriate budget is almost always a balancing act.    

When looked at broadly, our business resolutions should focus on creating a path toward sustained growth, profitability and franchisee satisfaction.

Be good to those you love

Most seasoned franchise organizations already know that awarding franchises to candidates with a high chance of success is essential. Quality over quantity is one of the most frequent catchphrases among those marketing franchises, and cannot be emphasized enough. Nearly 70 percent agree that improving lead quality is the most important aspect of the marketing program.

This starts with developing targeted personas that drive your marketing strategy. Your targeting activities should start with a detailed assessment of the profile, needs, goals, pain points and behaviors of the potential franchise buyer.

And a good place to start is by looking at what differentiates your top-performing franchisees from those whose performance is marginal or worse. A specific side-by-side comparison of these two groups will often yield insight that will better focus your marketing efforts.   

And, of course, when considering being better to those you love, ask yourself how your franchisees feel about you. A periodic survey of franchisee satisfaction will help you understand how you can improve your relationship. Creating trust is paramount to more effective communication, and the turn of the calendar serves as another opportunity to build stronger relationships with franchisees and display that their success is ultimately your goal as well.

Lose that excess weight

David Ogilvy, thought by many to be one of the fathers of modern marketing, once said, “Half of my advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” And, when it comes to franchise marketing, spending half of your money in the wrong places could have a devastating effect on your ability to reach your goals for the year.

Marketing is not about driving leads. It is about allocating resources most effectively in order to achieve your growth goals.  To do this, you must gain an understanding of how each lead-driving and lead-influencing tactic impacts your performance. And like any weight loss program, an important first step is to understand the behaviors that are fattening up your budget.  

By taking a tough look at what is working and what is not, a franchisor can better feed the tactics that deliver quality results and eat less of what’s not contributing to your program’s health and to eliminate it from the marketing budget and reallocate.  

And while you will certainly want to do a deep dive into the numbers, this analysis needs to go beyond that. For example, your expenditures on public relations efforts may not generate a huge number of leads or sales, but the backlinks that stories create may improve your SEO while the credibility created by stories should help improve close rates.    

In this process, you need to be careful to avoid past performance bias in your decision-making. An advertising medium that was doing great for you two years ago may now be largely played out as the majority of the readers who would have acted on your message already have done so. Weed out the bottom 10 to 30 percent of performers quarterly and replace them with alternate vehicles to optimize your returns.

And remember, regularly stepping on the scale throughout the year to assess the effectiveness of your marketing strategy is essential to cutting unwanted fat.

Invest for the future

All too often, franchisors try to reach their growth goals while operating under unnecessary self-imposed restraints.  An easy example of this is the franchisor that chooses not to work with franchise brokers because their commission (cost-per-sale) is too high.  But allowing cost-per-sale alone to influence your strategy is a big mistake.  

Even if your cost-per-sale eats up the entire franchise fee, it behooves the franchisor to understand that the present value of the franchise is much, much higher as decades of royalties provide a return. In assessing an investment in high-cost marketing vehicles, franchisors need to ask themselves not if the cost-per-sale is high, but instead whether the sale itself would be incremental to other advertising efforts.       

As a part of this effort, you should also examine your investment in growth in terms of message consistency. While many franchisors choose multiple specialty vendors to get the message out, they need to be careful that this disjointed approach does not lead to vendors who compete with each other to deliver the “best message,” as this will only muddle the brand’s value proposition.  

So if you choose to work with multiple marketing specialists (as opposed to an integrated agency that can implement all aspects of your campaign), require that they coordinate with you (and with each other) to deliver a singular message.  

Achieving these resolutions requires persistence. But by consistently evaluating, cutting fat, investing for the future, and focusing on those you love, you can find yourself among the few who start the new year with goals—and actually achieve them.

Mark Siebert is CEO of franchise consulting firm iFranchise Group. Reach him at 708.957.2300 or info@ifranchisegroup.com. His new book is “Franchise Your Business: The Guide to Employing the Greatest Growth Strategy Ever.”

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