Did you know that on average, 300 new companies start franchising each year? We know what you’re thinking — that’s a lot of competition. That’s why it’s more essential than ever to have a clear definition of your brand and what it has to offer.
1851 spoke with Nick Powills, the CEO of Mainland*; Leandro Gasparin, the head of franchise operations at Popeyes; and Charles Internicola, the founder of The Internicola Law* Firm to get their insight on the importance of the “Why You/Why Now” strategy for franchises.
The “Why You/Why Now” strategy is the key component of any brand’s marketing strategy. Without it, your brand is not only likely to get passive buyers, but it will also lack the very quality that typically interests buyers — human interest.
“For all brands, the ‘Why You’ already exists in its franchisees,” said Powills. “The ‘Why You’ is also consumer demand, growth and franchisee support. It’s often found in asking executives, ‘Why should I choose you over the competition?’”
“Why Now” essentially answers the question, “Why is now the right time to invest in this brand?” In other words, from a business standpoint, how does your brand present a lucrative opportunity to investors?
“Why You” and “Why Now” are also closely connected. And according to Internicola, determining a brand’s “Why You/Why Now” forces you to think far beyond your marketing strategy. “The Why You/Why Now strategy cuts through all the marketing noise and forces brands to answer the most important questions that franchisee candidates have,” he said. “It sounds like a simple process, but it’s not. Many brands believe that they have answered these questions, but they really haven’t, and that’s why you see so much ‘me too’ marketing.”
For Gasparin, the “Why You/Why Now” strategy takes a slightly different approach. “At the end of the day, it’s also our ‘Why Else/Why Not’ strategy at Popeye’s,” he said, which pushes prospects to consider, “Why might we invest in a different brand?”
A common question asked in business is “Why?”, but according to Gasparin, prospects should also be asking “Why Not?” The answer to that question, he believes, will determine why now is the right time to act.
“A brand needs to find what differentiates it from its competitors (for us, it’s our Louisiana roots), but it also needs to define its profitability, brand momentum and ‘Why Else/WhyNot.’”
Determining your franchise’s “Why You/Why Now” entails more than just defining your brand’s uniqueness — according to Powills, it isn’t as simple as stating, “We are an iconic brand.” It needs to be more meaningful, and it needs to originate from your customers’ and potential investors’ needs.
So, how do you find it?
Gasparin’s advice is to focus on the consumer. “It’s really about the connection you make with the consumer,” he said. “Consumer research and outstanding products are key. Popeyes is one of the most profitable franchises in the U.S. because it has clearly defined those two things.”
Internicola shares a similar viewpoint. “If done honestly and effectively, uncovering your “Why You/Why Now” will require a deep dive into the core of your brand, your leadership team, culture and core values,” he said. “In the end, your ‘Why You/Why Now’ must revolve around the transformation of your franchisees’ experience personally and professionally.”
For Powills, that “deep dive” requires brands to have clear answers for each of these categorical questions:
Now that you’ve defined what sets your brand apart and how to connect with your prospects, what’s the next step? Spread the news, of course!
“Find as many different places that might want to buy your brand (via your website, earned and paid assets, referral networks, newsletters, etc.) and deploy your message,” advised Powills.
In other words, once you’ve found your story, share it wherever you think your prospects will be. Internicola suggests sharing your brand’s story through “renewable, reusable assets starting with video and digital storytelling.”
Gasparin urges franchises to move fast. “Use your platforms and the opportunity they present to put a stake in the ground and claim your territory,” he said. “Don’t let another brand swoop in and claim your ‘Why You/Why Now.’”