As the Nightingale hospitals in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Harrogate are closed, sites like ExCeL London Docklands and the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham are likely to become available for events once again. Alongside the inevitable social distancing and hygiene measures in place, we may be back at franchise exhibitions in the autumn. Here’s our PR advice if you’re a franchisor planning to exhibit…
Perhaps one of the biggest dates in the franchising industry’s calendar is a national franchise exhibition. Prospects visit these events to see and hear from a wide variety of brands, all under one roof, as well as attend educational and inspiring seminars and workshops. For exhibiting franchise brands, it’s your chance to showcase the very best of your business to visitors and really get them excited about your opportunity. Obviously, in the run up to any such event, franchisors implement a marketing strategy designed to highlight the features and benefits of their franchise. But a supporting PR strategy, that helps to credibly leverage their brand in the eyes of prospects, is often missing.
Your PR efforts, whether you know it or not, form a vital part of a prospect’s decision-making process, both before and after the exhibition. We’re going to share a few insights into how to effectively utilise the buzz around the event to your advantage and start to generate some really great results. By the end of this blog post, you’ll be able to see how to complement your exhibition strategy with PR activities to ensure you maximise your appeal.
Before the show:
A prospective franchisee might deliberate over their options for 6 weeks or 6 months. It’s your job to make your presence known throughout that whole period. Of course, your PR activity shouldn’t just be switched on to raise awareness of your brand around the show but if you don’t have an ongoing PR campaign then starting one in the run up to an exhibition is a good idea. Sharing engaging, interesting and compelling stories are important for ongoing exposure. It’s generally regarded that it takes 7 ‘touchpoints’ before someone will engage with a brand. Imagine if you had reached your target prospect 2 or 3 times prior to them visiting the expo – do you think they’d be more likely, and feel comfortable, to approach you on your stand?
For that very reason, securing coverage, whether that is for consumer, trade or franchising media outlets, will begin to build awareness and trust as people search for a potential business opportunity. Highlighting your brand as a solid choice prior to a show will give prospects time to delve deeper into their research and learn more, setting you apart when they finally enter that exhibition hall with its huge variety of options. Psst. If you’re struggling to think of what news you could share with the media, read our post on 5 things you can always write a press release about.
After the show:
If the show was your 4th touchpoint, then you’ve potentially got to reach a prospect at least 3 more times before they’re ready to buy. Now, you may have an ad in the show magazine which they browse once they get home taking you to 5 touch points, but you still need to make at least 2 more appearances before you achieve that magic 7. And with these, you want to prove you are the franchisor you purport to be in your marketing collateral; that you are the brand to begin a partnership with. PR coverage and quality content will help to get prospects engaging with you after the show, by highlighting that you do what you say you do and, therefore, building trust and boosting your brand’s credibility. Here’s a few additional activities you might want to utilise:
- Case studies – speak with your franchisees and upload their case studies to your website. When prospects continue with their research, they’ll find further material to help support their decision
- Videos on social media – with a franchisee sharing a real-life scenario (perhaps they didn’t get to speak to an existing franchisee at the show), a prospect can make a better, more informed decision
- Newsletters – if prospects have given you their contact details, get in touch and send them your brand’s newsletter. Include a roundup of your latest franchise stories, case studies and testimonials so they receive everything in a neat little package. Tip: why not send them a personalised letter in the mail? In today’s digital world, we’ve lost touch with how it feels to receive something through the letterbox, so doing this can sometimes make more of an impact.
PR can make the difference between a good exhibition and a great one. You can set expectations prior to the show in your coverage and keep your brand front of mind after the event; thereby increasing your chances of finding the perfect match.