Leverage prospects’ emotional connections to your brand and unlock results

By Josh Harrell, VP of Video Strategy

When Keith and Chris McBrayer opened their first Captain D’s franchise two years ago, they were overwhelmed by the support of their local community they loved so much, by the business they brought in, and ultimately, by fulfilling their father’s dreams of opening up his favorite fast food restaurant just before he passed. They opened a new-design Captain D’s in a market with fewer than 12,000 people, and it was a huge success, breaking the all-time record for new store sales for the seafood franchise. In the words of a local TV reporter, “It was bigger than the opening of WalMart.” For a small community, that’s big praise indeed.

It’s a story they tell with emotion and love, not only for their family and community, but also for the franchise system with whom they choose to partner.

Video is a completely unique art form. No other format can combine the use of different types of media – visuals, audio, editing – to efficiently produce the impactful emotional response that video can. Video conveys the emotional success story of the McBrayers, but it goes beyond having an audience merely connect with a narrative or merely relate to an experience. A well-done video can give an audience the tools to visualize their own dreams, as well as provide the confidence needed to turn dreams into realities. When it comes to franchise development, however, video lags far behind the rest of the marketing world in how companies leverage it to connect to their audience base.

unnamed-1Video in marketing online is quickly becoming ubiquitous; video viewing will be 80 to 90 percent of all Internet traffic by 2019 according to “Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2014–2019,” a white paper presenting the details of the Cisco VNI global IP traffic forecast and the methodology behind it. The forecast is part of the Cisco Visual Networking Index™ (Cisco VNI™), an ongoing initiative to track and forecast the impact of visual networking applications. Franchise development agencies must get with the game and catch up to the curve. At the IFA last month, the lack of video – and especially the right kind of video – became a key takeaway for the industry.

So, just how dominant is video, and how can franchise development teams affordably produce the right kind of video to a consumer base who is becoming more tech savvy every year?

Online video is king

The statistics on the growing use of video have become redundant. Whether it’s a Socialnomics study that shows 2/3 of all content viewed on mobile devices will be video by 2016, or the current 8 billion video views a day on Facebook or the 500 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, online video continues to grow at an incredible pace. Still, we see myriad franchise development departments that have no video in their current marketing efforts; there’s no explanation for it! Whether you’re marketing to the seasoned, multi-unit operator or to the growing millennial class (soon the dominant group to whom franchisors will market), video has to be leveraged.

Outside of the franchising world, video creators are constantly pushing online video boundaries. From long-form series produced by media startups like Vice or online giants like Amazon and Netflix, to challenging the limits of technology with the virtual reality video being created by Sony, Samsung, and many others, online video is an exhilarating, constantly evolving world. Franchisors, though, still rely on an old, tired practice: setting up a backdrop at a conference, sticking a few franchisees in front of it and forcing them to say something nice about the brand. This is a complete waste of resources and shows a lack of ingenuity and ambition.

While old media cost a fortune to produce—and an even larger sum to get the ratings through television advertising—online channels, such as YouTube and Facebook, are seeing a massive surge in the results they’re creating through their own advertising platforms. For users, distributing hard-earned content via this medium is more affordable, plus you’re able to receive a treasure trove of data from the online channel. Pair that data with the ability to geo-target and remarket to your ideal audience, and you have the ability to really keep the heat on the sales targets.

Video as an emotional connector

Smart businesses are seeing the impact that connecting with their customers’ emotions can have on their own bottom line. A recent Harvard Business Journal (HBJ) article reported on a study that showed that hundreds of companies have experienced enormous growth in new account and same-store sales because of their scientific marketing efforts that appealed to their customers’ specific emotions. “The most sophisticated firms are making emotional connection part of a broad strategy that involves every function in the value chain, from product development and marketing, to sales and service.”

When making a decision – especially a decision as important as buying a franchise – prospects are affected by two factors: the head and the heart. Our head needs to tell us that the math adds up and it is a good investment. Arguably, however, the stronger factor is the heart. We must have an emotional connection with a purchase.

Intuitive franchise development departments know this and utilize it. The HBJ study revealed that buyers are motivated by a number of emotions – standing out from the crowd, having a sense of freedom in their lives, or needing to feel secure, for example. A franchise company must first identify the unique motivators its specific brand produces. When video, then, is used to connect these motivators to viewers through an emotional response, it becomes an extremely effective tool.

The founder of Juice Bar, John Hunt, wanted to be a healthier, better person when he went on his first juice cleanse. His life was transformed by his healthier diet and he couldn’t wait to share this with consumers, which was the genesis of his rapidly expanding company, I Love Juice Bar. A video transfers this emotional trigger to viewers, which gives them a taste of John’s transformation and helps them connect with a brand in a way that only video can achieve.

Authenticity is the name of the game

Merely shooting a few testimonials or some bland corporate images is a waste of time and money because it’s devoid of authenticity. Take it from Vimeo’s Head of Brand Solutions, Jeff Hurlow: “Many brands are now thinking about digital content from the entertainment perspective. Before people would just generate video as an excuse to put pre-roll in front of it, or to be background for their ads and branding. For a variety of reasons, that has become a less effective tool for brands. There’s some really innovative ad agencies we’ve been working with that are looking to build authentic films that people are interested in watching.”

This striving for authenticity is crucial when connecting video to emotions. Today’s consumers are blasted with media every minute of the day, and the only way to truly capture someone’s attention (and more importantly, their feelings) through media is by making them stop in their tracks because of an engaging, well-produced video.

Documentary storytelling is ripe for this. Quality documentary work pairs nonfiction with entertainment. In the franchising world, this could be telling the story of a franchisee in the fashion of the McBrayer Brothers or AAMCO franchisee Lou Fizzarotti, a charismatic New Yorker whose passion for the car repair business and the impact it’s had on his life is evident from the documentary profile piece. This is why video hosting platforms like YouTube and Vimeo are pairing talented filmmakers with intuitive brands.

While a common assumption is that the millennial generation feeds off of short-form content, the numbers suggest otherwise. Forbes writes that the reason behind the success of the aforementioned Netflix and Amazon, along with other long-form publishers like Vice and podcasts like Serial, is because of engaging authenticity through nonfiction storytelling. Gimlet Media’s Chief of Staff wrote in the Forbes article, “It’s no secret that millennials place a premium on authenticity. Unsurprisingly, we see this phenomenon at play in the realm of content, where [millennials] actually rank authenticity as more important than even subject matter.” So let’s quit forcing testimonials and pushing generic, stock images. When engaging, authentic storytelling is paired with an interesting subject – like the McBrayers or Lou Fizzarotti – the result is those emotional connectors that the Harvard Business Journal saw skyrocket businesses’ sales.

The raw, emotional power of documentary video can have a tremendous impact on a franchise development team’s ability to both generate quality new leads and engage captured leads so they go further in the sales process and make better investment decisions. During the next couple of years, the quality of your video storytelling will make or break your sales results, so it’s a good time to start thinking about how you can up your game.

What’s next

With video’s omnipresence online, the franchise sales world has to catch up to the rest of the marketing world. Forming a video plan and strategy is easier than many think; it just takes a desire to improve and to tell stories.

We’d love to show you how your franchisees’ and your brand’s stories provide emotional connections to potential franchisees. We can also show you how the right kind of filmmaking and video distribution campaign can have a massive effect on the way you speak to prospects.