As a franchisor working to expand your brand, you want to take advantage of every tool available to generate qualified leads, but have you incorporated blogging into your franchise development strategy?

I joined the roundtable discussion on "How to Use Blogging to Better Impact Your Franchise Development Strategy" by Jordy Patano of No Limit Agency at the International Franchise Association's annual conference in Las Vegas.

Patano works with franchise brands to market themselves to prospective franchisees, including incorporating blogging into their franchise development strategy, and I wasn't surprised to hear her endorse blogging as a key element in a successful franchise development strategy.

A vocal naysayer at the table expressed strong skepticism that blogging could do anything to help his company attract mature, financially secure prospective franchisees with well over $100,000 to invest -- because only young people with no money read blogs.

That's a common misconception, but Patano and other roundtable participants explained three important reasons why blogging can help any franchisor and in fact is a vital element of a successful franchise development strategy.

  • Blogging boosts your brand's SEO. In Patano's work with dozens of franchise brands, she said she has found the first step prospective franchisees take in their research process is a Google search. So if you want them to find your brand, you need to make sure you have strong SEO -- and you won't get that without good content. Google rewards brands that post quality, original content by moving their websites up in search results.
  • Blogging demonstrates your expertise. The information a brand provides in its blog posts shows prospective franchisees that the brand is an expert in its field. It also shows them that the brand is an expert in employing the franchising model. These are both vital because a prospective franchisee only wants to seriously consider a brand that's obviously serious about its industry and franchising.
  • Blogging keeps your website up to date. You can constantly update information on your brand through your blog. This is much quicker, easier and less expensive than having to get technical help every time you need to post new information.

After covering the reasons why blogging is an important part of a successful franchise development strategy, the discussion moved to how best to blog to generate qualified leads.

  • Be consistent. Consistency is more important than frequency for SEO purposes. It's better to do one or two good posts each week and to make sure they go online at about the same time than it is to flood your blog with mediocre posts every day.
  • Push the person over the brand. Your brand may be your focus, but its your people -- both franchisees and corporate staffers -- who are going to help you forge a connection with prospective franchisees that will lead them to buy into your brand. You can't forget that "people make brands," said Patano. Create written blog posts and videos that contain testimonials from people who love being a part of your brand. Have franchisees explain why they bought into your brand over all of the others available these days.
  • Create connections with your content. "Nothing stands alone today," said Patano. It's about creating cross connections between everything that happens with your brand. That's something you can do by incorporating blogging into your larger strategy, including social media, white papers and traditional marketing tactics.
  • Be careful about your tone. Patano said her agency uses a fun, active voice in their clients' blogs and stays away from more stiff, formal writing. She also warned against being overly promotional in your blog posts, saying it's better to provide relevant information and communicate your expertise than to push your brand on people. Following this advice helps to engage prospective franchisees and earn their trust in you as a company they're considering investing a significant amount of their money in.

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