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How to attract undecided


Every four years the U.S. government calls upon one of the most influential aggregates of men and women in the country: the Electoral College, 538 men and women, to be exact. It is their responsibility to cast the votes that decide the president and vice president of the United States.

What people sometimes fail to grasp, however, is the difference between the winners and losers in these elections is generally not determined by a candidate’s core constituency. The difference lies in the “undecideds”—the folks that are on the fence as to whether to go one direction or another.     

When it comes to growing your franchise system, there is much to be said for targeting specific groups with messages to swing those undecideds into the plus column.

Deconstructing the melting pot

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 77 percent of the 319 million people in the U.S. identify themselves as white. And for many franchisors, their targeted marketing stops there. But looking at that singular statistic fails to tell the entire story.  

Looked at from a different perspective, about 92 percent of the nation’s population is made up of minority groups including women, African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians, Asian Americans and people of two or more races. If age, military background and sexual-orientation are added as a way to focus our list, minorities in the U.S. would make up well over 100 percent of the entire population.

Given these staggering statistics, today’s franchisors have two choices: tailor a franchise recruitment strategy that appeals to a wide audience, with differing values, goals and beliefs. Or develop multiple messages, each of which is tailored to a specific segment of your targeted population base.

In decades past, of course, it just was not feasible to create specific messages for multiple target markets. But today’s savvy franchisors are finding it is much easier than ever to get very granular with their marketing efforts.

Spin zone

Consider a franchisor who wants to appeal to two voter groups: conversions and start-up candidates. Oftentimes, the messaging for these two prospects is diametrically opposed to each other.  

Start-up candidates are motivated by opportunity and the idea of business ownership. They want to know how bright the future will be with your offer. In a word, you are selling hope. Conversion prospects, on the other hand, are being asked to sacrifice their independence, to perhaps take their father’s name off the door, and to pay that franchisor for the right to do so.  

Their messaging needs to be very different—focusing on how the industry is changing and their inability to compete in a market in which they do not have the tools at their disposal that their competitors have. Their message needs to focus on change and incremental value—and in a word, fear.      

Trying to address both of these groups with the same message will invariably fail and, at best, result in a muddled message and mediocre results for the franchisor.  

I am not, of course, advocating that franchisors try to be all things to all people.  Ultimately, the brand has to stand for something. But it is often the way in which the message is communicated that is important.   

Take, for example, a franchisor looking to attract Hispanic franchisees. While the message might be identical the communication of the message would be very different.

Developing a Spanish-language version of your website is a relatively easy first step. A brochure written in Spanish is another relatively easy step. And, of course, if video is a part of your messaging, subtitles or a translated version will further improve your communication.

Not only will these materials demonstrate your commitment to diversity, but they will also provide you with a significant competitive advantage over competitors who are solely focused on traditional marketing methods and tactics. But bear in mind, your messaging must do more than just talk-the-talk. Imagine a Spanish-speaking prospect who calls your office, only to find that no one internally can speak the language.  

So if you decide to target Spanish-speaking prospects, be sure that all of your targeted messages have a dedicated email address and phone number that goes right through to a Spanish-speaking member of your staff.    

Do your photos show franchisees and customers who match the profile of your targeted candidates? Do they address the topics that are of concern to your target market? The goal, of course, is to find a message that resonates with a particular segment of your electorate.  

Focus on the swing states

Once you have decided on your target audiences and the messaging you will use with each, you then need to develop a marketing strategy that will focus on each of your core target groups. And virtually every media has opportunities for this kind of segmentation. Print publications and their online counterparts today target virtually every minority group imaginable, and your marketing efforts in those publications will serve to further emphasize your message of inclusion.  

One of the best ways to target minority candidates is through public relations.  Placing stories about successful minority franchisees, or the expansion of your brand into minority markets, can be a great first step. Other stories on minority-outreach programs and minority executives can also help promote your message of inclusion. The same tactic, of course, can work for other “minorities” such as veterans, women or members of the LGBT community.    

What’s important to remember is that no matter what culture, race or economic background a franchise prospect comes from, ultimately, they will still all have one thing in common—the desire to be in business for themselves.

Mark Siebert is CEO of 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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