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When to race, when to slow down


Mark Siebert

Illustration by Jonathan Hankin

Recently, a racing video on YouTube went viral across social media and international news outlets. It wasn’t a typical racing video. There were no cars, or cyclists or horses. This video answered the fabled question: Who is faster? The tortoise or the hare?

As marketers, speed is a part of everything we do. We are constantly adapting our marketing plans to move leads into the sales pipeline more quickly.  

In the fable—and in the video—it’s the tortoise who prevails. But a truly effective marketing plan will use more than just the hare’s out-of-the-gate speed. It will strategically use data and feedback to win the marathon as well as the sprint.  

Life in the fast lane

Clickable leads, those gathered instantly by the click of a mouse, are deservedly a staple for many marketing campaigns. Pay-per click serves you with instant leads. PPC campaigns are easy to start, can cast a wide net or target extremely specific audiences and keywords, and are most often less expensive than traditional marketing practices.

Perhaps just as important, because they can be tracked with precision, they provide the serious marketer with reams of additional information that can be adapted across media where this information is not as easily quantified.  

Want to test two alternate messages to determine which will better resonate with your targeted buyer? Before incorporating one or the other across your media buy, conduct a series of A-B tests in your PPC campaigns. Test the short form message (the PPC ad) to see which gets more clicks. Test the long-form message (the landing page) to see which gets better conversions. Offer e-brochures that will carry additional messaging to further reinforce your value proposition. And ultimately, apply the results as you continue to look to the bigger picture KPIs of close rates and cost-per-sale.

Another way to test the effectiveness of your messaging is through the use of social signals. Social signals provide you with immediate feedback on how well you are optimizing your story and provide you with information on your social visibility. How many times and where has your website been shared, liked, posted, or clicked on social media channels?

Again, results in real time to help you better understand both your target audiences and your effectiveness in reaching them.

One way to achieve this is by turning traditional A-B testing on its ear. Instead of testing different messages, try serving similar ads to different interest groups. Based on their relative response rates, you can determine which audience is most receptive to your offer.  

Finally, when it comes to immediate feedback, nothing beats trade shows. According to the event management firm SpinGo, 67 percent of all trade show attendees represent a new prospect, 81 percent of trade show attendees have buying authority, and the average attendee spends 8.3 hours viewing trade show exhibits at an exhibition.

Our experience at the better franchise shows is that for the right types of businesses, a well-run booth should generate more than a hundred leads and between one and two franchise sales. But of almost equal importance is the face-to-face feedback that your sales team can use to its long-term advantage. Real people, in real time.

So how do you uncover this valuable information at a show, and determine who is the most interested in your message, and what messages are resonating with them the most? It is as simple as asking. When someone stops at your booth, ask them about their background (and of course, capture that information). And, as you engage them, ask them what they are looking for in a franchise (and why they are considering yours or the franchises of others). After the show, check the data you have collected and see how it compares with your overall target audiences and messaging.

Slow your roll

As much as we relish the immediacy of leads that we can generate at the click of a button, a well-rounded strategy requires us to invest in longer-term solutions as well. SEO, for example, can require months and even years to reach top performance. Even public relations activity, which aside from its intrinsic value contributes to SEO through backlinks, also requires a long-term investment of time and effort.

So while our fast lane tools are running at full speed to capture and analyze leads, the best marketers should also be looking for the means to incorporate information throughout their franchise marketing efforts. Of particular note is the importance of applying immediate-term data and feedback into longer-term content marketing strategies.

In the past few years, content marketing has become a popular buzzword among marketers. So, what is it exactly? Content marketing is a promotional activity that develops, publishes and distributes various forms of written or video-based information for a specific targeted audience. Typically, it does not focus on direct lead generation or sales, but instead, by providing valuable information free of charge, it encourages brand loyalty and trust and helps to develop a future sale.

The importance of integration

The moral of the story is that different potential prospects respond differently to a variety of lead generation efforts. But in order to capture these leads, we need to start by understanding what each of these prospects is looking for and where they are looking, and apply different marketing strategies appropriately.

So while the tortoise may win the race in the long term, when it comes to franchise sales, it would be well advised to take some lessons from the immediate feedback garnered by the hare so that, ultimately, both can reach the finish line.

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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