Many franchise brands struggle with developing an effective content marketing strategy that meets the needs of their customer. Consumers work through a buying process that starts with becoming aware of a need and ends with making a decision to purchase or not to purchase. At any moment in time consumers are online researching and learning about products and services you offer. Smart marketers understand that they have potential customers within various stages of the decision process and that it’s important to build content that communicates with these prospective customers no matter where they are in their decision journey with their company.
- Awareness: This is the stage in which your potential customer becomes aware that your company exists. You need to create content your target audience will find interesting before they are in the market for what you sell. By creating this type of content you are exposing your business to potential customers while leading with value. For example, if you are a pest control franchise you might want to create blog articles or videos around how to winterize their house to prevent unwanted pests wintering in their house. A pizza franchise could write a blog on how to throw the perfect graduation party. Thirty to forty percent of the content you create should fall into this category.
- Evaluation: This is the stage in which your customer is in the market for what you are selling and they are trying to formulate their buying criteria to understand and evaluate all the features available to them, from you and your competitors. When I take my family to the beach, I want to look at all of the potential places to stay in correlation to the beach, restaurants, and other fun activities. If I’m planning to take my family on a beach vacation in Florida, I would love to read/watch content about things to do in various beach towns, or the best beaches to watch the sunset, or what locations are best to see dolphins swimming offshore. For food franchises, an evaluation piece might be on the benefits of healthy eating and how your low-carb gluten free menu helps achieve a healthy lifestyle. For express oil change franchise, an evaluation piece could be the pros and cons of synthetic oils. For a home care franchise, you could discuss the advantages to aging in place compared to moving into an assisted living center too early. Like the awareness stage, 30% to 40% of your content should be about helping the customer evaluate your offering.
- Decision: Now that your potential customers know what they want, they have to make a decision about where to buy it. They are asking themselves, “Why should I buy from you?” Here’s your opportunity to strut your stuff and tell stories about how much value you’ve delivered to others who have enjoyed your product or service. Whatever your niche is, maximize it by creating content around it so your customer can see why they should buy from you. Decision-based content should represent the smallest percentage of your content. Too much horn tooting will turn off customers who are in the awareness or evaluation stage.
My experience has been that most business owners want to create lots of decision stage content and I have to spend a lot of time helping them see the value of creating content for the other stages. The biggest reason for building content within all three stages is that by doing so you are exposing your business to a much bigger target audience. In the funnel graphic, the Decision stage is smaller than the others. This means a company could be missing out on 60% to 80% of the potential customers they could engage with in social media. Additionally, customers who find you when they are in the decision stage are pretty set in what they want. You won’t have much opportunity to sway them toward your features and benefits, which means unless you line up perfectly with their buying criteria you won’t make the sale. However, if they find you earlier in the process then you have the opportunity to educate them on why the features and benefits you offer are a perfect fit for them.