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Over my nearly 20 years in communications, I’m often confronted by the question – does this make sense; is this location any good; are we a good fit for the market? That’s the first thing you should always ask yourself when investing into something new, whether that’s a product or even a new franchise. You have to know who your customers are first and how to engage that audience. If your customer doesn’t understand how your brand works for them personally – they’re going to be reluctant to buy anything at all.

 

Truth is, you’ll probably never be able to scale until you’ve found the product market fit – that magical place where people simply can’t get enough of what you do. It’s the place where unicorns live in the business world, but it’s also incredibly difficult to understand. Just because people are buying what you are selling doesn’t mean you’ve achieved “product market fit,” and likewise just because you’ve haven’t achieved massive growth doesn’t mean you’re not on the right path.

 

Know Your Why

It all starts by understanding who your core customer is and how they live, work and play. Stop trying to find the soft spots where your product might fit and instead have a clear understanding of what your product is and why your audience will care. If you don’t know who the core customer is, then your “why” will inevitably be off target.

 

Evaluate the Market

This is often tricky because we’re creatures of comfort. Close to home feels safe and easier because there is less perceived risk. While sometimes true, I would challenge that you need to make sure you’re asking yourself some basic questions first before determining market availability – 1) How many users are there currently? 2) What’s the potential for new users? 3) What are their barriers to acquisition? The right market doesn’t just showcase the potential for growth; you have to be able to understand its dynamics and how it functions in order to take full advantage as an entrepreneur.

 

Use Your Customers

No product and no brand is perfect right out of the gate. You have to adapt, evolve and change in order to progress. Take advantage of analytics and data driven insights from your customers in order to grow and meet their future needs. If you understand what they like to read, where they shop, what sports they watch, how the react to positive experiences and what they would tell their friends – then you start to craft a clearer picture of what can work, where the gaps are and what might possibly lie in between.

 

 

I was recently at a kickoff meeting for a new client and had an eye opening conversation with Seed’s creative and graphic design partner about the tiny, yet powerful changes that can make a small business grow. What we realized while waiting for our meeting to get started was that seemingly insignificant, yet creative ideas could have a colossal impact on the way we live, work and play, and also how customers interact with a business.

 

The discussion started after we traded some back and forth comments about a neon sign hanging in the lobby of the sleek and modern co-working office space we were meeting in. The sign was irreverent, but aspirational in an entrepreneurial way. It was a quick motivator to all that occupied the building designed to influence them as they navigated the main lobby over to the common area for coffee, tea and free string cheese of all things.

 

I honestly don’t even remember what the sign said, but what I do distinctly remember is our conversation afterwards about entrepreneurship and how one seemingly small change in your personal life or in that of a business can have a powerful impact.

 

An example that resonated strongly with me was my inability to sometimes finish a book that I started. Time, work, exhaustion and family commitments were all excuses I’ve used for not finishing the book. But the reality was I was looking at it too much from the macro level. Hundreds of pages a week was simply not attainable for me right now. But I could certainly read 3 pages a day. I have time for 3 pages a day. What it taught me was that a little humility could help me pinpoint the problem and put me back on a path for growth instead of stagnation.

 

That was our ah-ha moment and it got me thinking about the small changes I’ve made in my business or the small changes we’ve recommended to clients that have had a really big impact on sales, development, usability and culture. They’ve all required a little bit of creativity and a fresh approach, but some of the best did not involve hours of hard labor.

 

Sometimes small changes are all you need to turn the corner. Because it sure beats what many of us default to: overworking and burning out. 

 

 

Franchising is undoubtedly undergoing change as we move from merely buying products, services and food to buying an entire brand experience instead. This means franchisors, and especially their franchise development teams, can no longer remain satisfied by just reducing the friction on the path to purchase. Now the franchise sales cycle should be a more holistic and immersive brand experience that surrounds the candidate with more than just the product and the bottom line.

 

Look at the brands we love – Apple, Nike, Amazon, Trader Joe’s, Disney - they all have this immersive brand experience that is simple, fluid and cohesive. This is now the minimum requirement in franchise sales – an approach that’s accessible and clear for buyers of all shapes and sizes. But the experience on the franchise sales side must be a tangible expression of the brand. One that exists and is transferrable digitally, socially, on the trade show floor, in print, over the phone, and in territories in between.

 

The shift to the experience economy has been well documented over the last decade but far too often viewed only through a generational lens focused on youth. The consensus has always been that Gen Z and Millennials want to be tied to brands that provide an “experience” versus the buying of “things.” And while this is somewhat true, I would argue that an emotional connection to a brand carries over to Gen X, Boomers and beyond as we all collectively shift away from accumulating “stuff” and transition into a more experience-based culture.

 

It’s easier to see how experience plays into the purchasing decision behind booking a Disney vacation or buying a new iPhone, but a little more blurred when you consider the idea of buying a Firehouse Subs, RibCrib or Filta Environmental Kitchen Solutions franchise. What these brands are doing, along with so many others, is not only redesigning their websites, and digital and creative assets, but also re-imagining the brand’s whole ecosystem and how it is experienced by the franchisee prospect.

 

How do new forces such as 5G, WiFi 6, artificial intelligence, social media and location-based software blend both the physical and digital environments of the sales cycle? You have to remember; it’s not just young millennials that are attracted to these technologies because digital natives are now in the 40s and 50s as well. And quite frankly, it’s those prospects in their 40s and 50s that typically have the capital to consider franchise investment.

 

Simply put, the experience economy demands that the franchise sales process think more holistically and create an inspired and seamless experience that resonates both on the screen and beyond. Visit SeedPR to learn a little bit more. 

 

Change comes to every business. It’s inevitable. Franchising is not immune to change despite the wishes of some. There are forces working for and against the industry always. Those shifts and your perspective on them vary across verticals and also on which side of the proverbial “aisle” you sit on. Minimum wage, third party delivery, joint employer, access to capital, rent, employee retention, franchise development costs – these “changes” all play into how a brand can possibly grow or contract.

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