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The importance of understanding buyer personas in 3 key elements

Digital Marketing: Three Key Elements to Consider When Marketing to a Buyer for Your Franchise Concept

Those of us who work in the franchise digital marketing industry understand that what we do for a living is never about our product or service, it’s about with whom we are communicating – in other words, the prospective franchise buyers. It’s always about them, not us. How will a concept affect their lives? What needs of theirs will a franchise opportunity fulfill? What are they looking for when it comes to culture, financial requirements, ROI and overall fit? Ultimately, the better you understand who you are trying to attract to your franchise system, the easier it will be to create a digital marketing campaign that produces the results you are after.

The Buyer Persona

Sixty-three percent of marketers create content by using buyer personas. Whether we call them our prospects, or franchise candidates, or other terminology a smart marketer will make sure they know them quite well before creating a campaign to reach them. One important exercise in getting to know them is by developing specific buyer personas. These personas are essentially made-up characters or profiles of ideal targeted audiences, and are fleshed out by assigning them a name and including a representative photo, listing their demographics (age, gender, ethnicity, family status), their work experience and job titles, and identifying their values and goals.

Here are three key elements to leverage when creating buyer personas, to then help shape your digital marketing campaigns for your franchise concept.

1. Social Media Paints a Picture

In today’s digital environment, you can find out a lot about a prospect by researching activity on social media, which provides excellent analytics about your audience.  What do their profiles say about them? What do they post about? What groups do they belong to? For example, let’s say your ideal prospect (we’ll call him Executive Eric) shares statistics on Facebook each week about his favorite football team. He comments on images of his friend’s posts from tailgating events. He also posts multiple pictures of his family, especially his daughter playing soccer, and his dog, Skip, enjoying frisbee at the lake. His Linkedin profile says he is in upper management, highly skilled in human resources, and works for a company that requires a lot of travel.

We have just observed multiple things about Executive Eric. His family is important to him, he is good at managing people, he is accustomed to a lifestyle that allows for lake living, and he probably wouldn’t mind more time to spend at home tailgating with friends and watching his daughter play soccer, instead of traveling for work. If this is a good fit for your franchise concept, then let’s find Eric where he hangs out. Create a franchise marketing campaign that targets football enthusiasts, like a PPC campaign in fan groups of his favorite team, or on the podcast he listens to each week. Appeal to him as a father, a dog-lover and someone who enjoys activities on the lake. If you know what Executive Eric’s interests are, you can use that information to direct when, where and how you market to him.

2. What Are They Searching For Online and Why Does it Matter?

Franchise marketing is very much about pain or passion. Once you understand those two things about your candidate, you can use that information to round out the persona. If your candidate is searching for things like philanthropy, which businesses are environmentally responsible, or how to make a rain barrel in your own backyard, then you know they are a person who may be driven by cause – in this case the environment. Now we have a good idea where to find them. Whereas if they search topics like the Top 5 Businesses to Work from Home, subscribe to female entrepreneur channels on YouTube, and pin parenting tips on Pinterest, we know we have an individual who may feel the pain of spending more time at work than with the kids at home. These factors might help you develop additional buyer personas, such as Philanthropist Phil or Parenting Patricia.

In both cases we get a good sense of where we might find them online, but more importantly we understand what matters to these candidates and can adapt our marketing efforts to reflect as much. Another way to use this information is to help you make an emotional connection to your brand. What is it about your brand that will trigger an emotional response from your philanthropist candidate? How does your home-based business model solve the pain of the mother who misses her kids? Unconscious branding plays a huge role in brand loyalty, in that buyers remember feeling associated with a brand, even if they don’t recall why.  Find the pain, find the passion, and market accordingly.

3. Who Are They Listening To?

Let’s go back to Executive Eric, our senior HR professional who travels regularly for work. Any franchisor understands that a candidate rarely makes the decision to invest on his own. In Eric’s case, he already has a lucrative career in Human Resources so you can bet he will be listening to experts in your industry, he will seek legal and accounting advice, and lastly – remember those friends he yearns to tailgate with, count on him talking to them too. For this reason, you should be providing information within your marketing materials that answers the questions of Eric’s advisors.

Follow the Trail They Provide for You

The number one rule before making any franchise marketing moves is to understand your brand’s buyer persona, then find them where they are, and understand what is important to them before creating your digital campaign to market to them. Your potential franchise owners will leave digital breadcrumbs – or in our business, cookies! – that reveal scads of information about themselves and their character. Before launching a PPC or email campaign, take the time to find out what those character traits are, as well as what matters to them, and who they are influenced by. By homing in on these kinds of details, you set yourself ahead of the digital marketing curve.

Matthew Jonas President of TopFire Media
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