And the Oscar goes to…how to tap and celebrate stars in your system
Illustration by Jonathan Hankin
Have you ever wondered why in September, October and November, Hollywood’s elite rave endlessly about their new projects? It’s all about blockbuster hits, edgy independent films, star-studded rom-coms. The reason is simple—it’s Oscar season.
Though the dates fluctuate slightly from year to year, Oscar season typically runs from mid-September to December. Movie studios make a strategic effort to release films deemed “Oscar worthy” during these months to keep the films fresh in Academy members’ minds before voting commences in late December.
And who better to promote these Oscar-worthy movies than the beautiful, talented and charming Hollywood actors who star in them? It’s a smart move—audiences want to see their favorite celebrities, and those hard-working actors want to add “Academy Award-winner” to their resumes.
Selling an award-worthy franchise concept shouldn’t be any different. Let your stars, the top-performing franchisees in your system, sell the show to others. Let them metaphorically walk the red carpet, mingle with the press and spread the word about how great your franchise opportunity really is.
Lights, camera, action
Step one in executing a marketing strategy that hinges on your successful franchisees is making sure they see their name in the lights. When you sign a franchisee, there should be a strategic plan in place to celebrate each level of the sale.
First, start with the agreement signing. Take photos of the signing and of your new franchisee with the executive team, and then feature these photos, along with a short story about the franchisee’s journey, on your recruiting website and in your social media channels. What you may discover about your new franchisee could even lead to a larger scale marketing campaign.
Perhaps this individual is a former military veteran or business executive who was ready to leave the 9 to 5 corporate world behind. Identifying compelling stories about your franchisees can help you highlight their journey and shape a reliable buyer profile to be used later in your recruitment strategies.
You may even find stories compelling enough to attract media attention. Industry publications are always on the hunt for interesting franchisee profiles, so work to position one of your own and use the material as an additional selling point with prospects.
After signing day, activity on your new franchise sale can sometimes slow down as the development and build-out process get underway. But for you, and ideally for your marketing team, this is the perfect time to lay the foundation for opening night.
Far too often I see franchisors who fail to capitalize on the excitement, celebration, and the marketing potential of a territory or unit opening. Of course, developing and executing a full-scale grand opening celebration is time consuming and costly, but even the smallest gesture can go a long way to highlight your new franchise location.
Start by developing a press release. Within it, highlight your new franchisee and their journey with quotes and detailed background information about his or her personal and professional experiences. Write it in a fashion that highlights your buyer profile while promoting the narrative you’re trying to craft. By creating a buyer profile that prospective franchisees can relate to, you, and more importantly your existing franchisees, can help paint them into the picture of what their future might look like.
A press release, combined with an outbound media campaign, will also help draw in new business for the franchisee. If you do not have a PR team to assist you, encourage your franchisees to take ownership of the process (at least on a local basis), distributing it to their local media and business organizations.
This will create a greater sense of ownership for the franchisee and give them motivation to get out in the community and drum up business for themselves. Aside from getting your franchisee’s location off to a good start and enhancing your overall reputation and brand awareness, your role in the launch provides your franchisees with a greater appreciation of your value.
Roll out the red carpet
Hollywood producers, directors and agents all know the golden rule of the industry—keep the stars happy. Whether it’s making sure there are no brown M&M’s in the snack bowl (a famous rider request from Van Halen’s 1982 world tour) or shelling out extra cash for a luxury trailer on set, pleasing celebrities is part of promotion.
They are the ones promoting the movie, so make sure they are happy doing so. The same goes for your franchisees.
Remember, franchisees have a huge stake in your brand themselves. The more you’re able to grow, the more brand recognition they receive, and the more business they can expect to generate. So use your franchisees to leverage your success. Let your franchisees tell their stories to prospects. And make sure your franchisees know the value of promoting the brand—not just to consumers, but to prospective franchisees.
Promotional videos featuring franchisee testimonials on your website deliver the message in a very powerful way. These same videos can be housed on your YouTube page and on other social media channels.
Remember, your prospects will value hearing from franchisees because they have the freedom to speak from the heart. So instead of basking in all of the limelight yourself, make sure that you regularly take the opportunity to make your franchisees the star of the show. When you do, you will enhance your most important sales tools—validation.
Mark Siebert is CEO of franchise consulting firm iFranchise Group. Reach him at 708.957.2300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.