Catching screen time to boost your franchise’s reach has never been easier

Yes, you may find a match on Tinder but being clever with smartphone marketing can also attract a lot of new franchisees

Catching screen time to boost your franchise’s reach has never been easier

It’s no secret technology has long been changing the way we live, nor that the pace at which technology evolves is difficult to keep up with. In franchise marketing, that’s perhaps best illustrated by the effect phones and tablets has had on how franchisors reach their target audiences.

This isn’t a call to arms to avoid non-digital marketing – print, exhibitions, audio and face-to-face channels are still an important part of the mix. But even within those areas, the small screens we spend so much time looking at has changed the way networks grow. From apps like Readly and Skype to the mailshots you use to promote your exhibition attendance or discovery day, smartphones are now a vital part of more than just your digital marketing activity. They’re how your audience view much of your information and content.Whether it’s buying a house, banking, getting from A to B, catching up on current affairs, shopping or communicating with each other, our smart devices can virtually help us with everything. Marketing and advertising have been forever changed by them. Are franchisors paying enough attention to this fact?

Responsive is just the beginning

Let’s start with the obvious: everybody knows websites must be responsive on all screens, with more searches now carried out on mobiles than desktops and Google penalising URLs which aren’t mobile-friendly in search results. But it’s not just about ensuring your content resizes for phones and tablets, it’s about making sure the content is suited to those screens too. Design and planning are still generally carried out on desktops and laptops, even though the majority of prospects are consuming the content on a much smaller device.

When was the last time you looked at your franchise site on a mobile, imagining it’s the first time you’ve ever seen it? A text-heavy website might look great and work perfectly on a computer but on a phone it will quickly become laborious to read and disengage visitors. We’ve long been moving towards more visual means of communication, so even if you want to maintain plenty of copy on your desktop site, your mobile version might need to look very different with shorter bursts of text interspersed with graphics, icons and all-important video clips. And we’re now used to getting all the information we want instantaneously and with as little effort as possible, so navigation is just as important – a simple, clear journey through the site at the touch of a small-screen button or link can make all the difference between an enquiry and a missed opportunity.

Video is still a word that can scare those who don’t like appearing on camera but as regular readers know, I can’t stress enough how important it is to connect with a modern audience and show off your franchise. The boom in YouTube followed by Snapchat and Netflix et al. is impossible to ignore when it comes to what we do with our time. Mobile video viewing time in the UK is predicted to grow by 16% this year, according to eMarketer.” Moreover, Hubspot reports 55% of people watch online videos daily and 78% weekly. If you’ve been on a tube, train or bus recently this will come as no surprise, with most of us being glued to our screens instead of reading the once-ubiquitous free papers. And that brings a host of opportunities.

Pinpoint accuracy

With the rise of screen time has come an explosion of data available to marketers. Where once you’d put an advert in a paper or the Yellow Pages and hope to reach the people you were targeting, it’s never been easier to pinpoint an audience and appeal to them directly.”

Whatever demographic or interest you’re seeking, there’s a platform that can get you in front of the right prospects if you can just imagine the world through their eyes for a moment or two.

Those people on their commute to and from a job they can’t stand who are scrolling through their Facebook and LinkedIn feeds or surfing web pages for something interesting to read or watch? That’s a captive audience for your franchise – morning noon and night. The so-called millennials who are Snapchatting and Instagramming their lives and watching brand stories in between swapping pictures with friends? Those are eyes you could be engaging with your franchise opportunity. The point is, smartphones have made it possible to reach into someone’s world in ways never before possible. We all want to see franchising enjoy greater visibility in the media but that’s no longer the only way to showcase the sector or your brand’s position in it. That little device in everybody’s pocket or bag lets you reach out to the previously unreachable.

The general consensus at recent events and forums I’ve been to, from both franchisors and the likes of banks and other professionals, is that franchisee recruitment has been tough this year. Between Brexit concerns, record employment levels and high levels of personal debt, that’s perhaps no surprise. But if you’re finding it hard to attract the right kind of prospect, then it’s time to take a fresh look at not just where you’re marketing but also at how you’re doing it. The technology revolution will continue apace and who knows how we’ll be reaching our audiences in ten years’ time?

But for now, keep the small screen at the front of your mind and you won’t go far wrong. It might not be where you’re creating your content and collateral but it’s almost certainly where your prospects are reading, watching and listening to it.”

Paul Stafford
Paul Stafford