As the number of younger franchise buyers surges, franchise salespeople still don’t know how to connect with them

Younger franchise buyers are flooding the market these days, and the franchising conferences – from Franchise Leadership and Development Conference (FLDC) to FranTech — spent some focused time exploring that reality. Smart franchisors see the benefits of recruiting millennial entrepreneurs. They appreciate the statistics — ubiquitous at the FLDC — which say that buyers in their 20s and 30s are on a steep increase and will bring creativity, energy and enthusiasm to their franchise systems.

Franchisors’ efforts to recruit millennials, however, are all wrong. As evidenced by companies’ (like BuzzFeed, Facebook, Google and Amazon) investment into video, we millennials have a preference on how to communicate, and we gobble up video. Even though video on franchise development websites has risen 20% — up to 60% this year — that’s still an extremely low percentage (it’s 2016 people; what are the rest of you doing out there?). Sadly, the way presenters described the video on their sites reeked of corporate misunderstanding.

Authenticity is the key

tony-romasAuthenticity has not only been the catchy phrase of the election cycle; it also represents an idea and skill that we millennials have been prepped to sniff out in an instance. Your corporate videos of half-enthused franchisees make us feel entirely disconnected from your brand. We simply won’t watch those videos and will be ready to move on to the next idea. We want to have a connection with our work. Study after study has shown that millennials want to BELIEVE in what they’re doing and make sure that their life work has meaning and purpose. We’ve been blasted with advertising and constant media since we could understand language, so we don’t want to be sold something; we want to identify with it.

The constant theme when discussing video on websites was “testimonial videos.” Creating these videos usually happens like this: wait for your annual convention, set up a camera and a backdrop with your logo on it, shove as many of your franchisees in front of the camera as possible and force them to say nice things about your brand. If you go to a conference like the FLDC and hear that you need more video to attract more millennial buyers, and you force this type of video onto your website, then you’re actually TURNING AWAY those buyers.

This is why “testimonial” videos will always come up short. We seek out pieces that we can connect with. Empathy drives action, and when you’re communicating with millennials, this needs to be at the forefront of your thinking. Produce videos that are meaningful and allow for actual connections with the video subject’s life. These deeper connections are necessary to franchise buyers, and if you think you’re establishing connections through mere testimonials, you’re fooling yourself.

How do you get video right?

The value of emotionally-relevant video is really starting to bubble to the surface in franchise development. Smart, forward-thinking brands like ChemDry are stuffing their YouTube pages full of relatable, authentic documentaries. We get to know real people (who happen to be franchisees) and the way the brand, to which they’ve dedicated their lives, has shaped who they are. When a company as storied as AAMCO, or a company as new and fresh as Class 101 create videos like this, viewers can picture themselves as franchisees because they empathize with the human qualities of a Lou Fizzarotti or a Karen Feamster. I’m excited that brands like PostNet are not only making quality video the lifeblood of their franchise development web site, but they’re also producing videos that speak to people in a real way.

When you watch these sorts of videos, think about how much more emotionally engaging they are compared to typical content marketing. At the end of the day, emotion triggers action and pieces like these documentaries can be the glue your campaign needs to hold all the numbers together.

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There’s an obvious reason the vast majority of franchise development sites lack this kind of video: it’s really hard to produce. But the best franchise developers are already thinking about their candidates in the right way – they get to really know them, make sure the right fit is there, and hold their hand through a massive life decision.

Now, think about that in terms of video. Real franchisee profile videos and documentaries take that kind of dedication – it means getting to know a franchisee, spending TIME with that franchisee and really digging in to see what motivates and inspires them. It’s storytelling on an empathetic level, and it really takes actual filmmakers to pull off such a project.

We love interesting franchisees who are doing amazing things within their franchise system. It’s so inspiring to run into franchisees – from boomers to millennials – and to hear their stories, see their environment and experience the businesses they’ve built. It’s these stories that we 20- and 30-somethings crave when making such an emotional decision like buying a franchise. If you’re looking to improve the way you speak to this exploding group of new franchisees, we’d love to discuss it with you.