Amid the increasingly digital-focused franchise discovery process, the face-to-face communication opportunity a franchise show affords can be extremely valuable.
Now, I know what you’re thinking after reading the headline of this article: In today’s digital-first climate, how is anyone arguing for making a critical business decision in a convention center?
To that, I’d say you make a fair point, but hear me out. While attending a franchise trade show may not carry the same weight it did a decade ago, doing so is still a valuable piece of the marketing mix for franchisors—and an equally worthwhile endeavor for prospective franchisees during the discovery process, as well.
Of course, it’s true that denying the onset of the digital age and the impact it has had on the franchise discovery and sales processes is a fool’s errand. My point is simply that franchise trade shows still hold enough value on both sides of the aisle that candidates and franchise sales pros alike would be remiss in eliminating them from each of their respective toolboxes.
Take franchisors, for example. The entire industry is constantly talking about ways to generate more leads and the need to diversify the sources from which to do so. Digital marketing is clearly an essential part of any multifaceted strategy, but it doesn’t negate the need to market a franchise opportunity in a variety of ways. Brands should aim to meet prospects where they already are, whether that’s on social media platforms, in their brick-and-mortar locations with print marketing, or even walking the halls of a convention center.
With the knowledge that franchise lead generation strategies should include multiple channels, what better way to get in front of owner candidates than by literally getting in front of them?
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MFV – International Franchise Expo
Franchise trade shows provide the opportunity for franchise sales professionals to meet prospective franchisees face-to-face to discuss the merits of their brand or company, an opportunity that still holds extreme value for candidates looking to navigate through an exorbitant amount of industry sectors and concepts. Despite the amount of research, they can conduct online, a lot of candidates still want to go meet people in-person and be introduced to a brand as part of their decision-making process.
While this can’t be the only lead generation method a brand employs, franchise trade shows are still a great resource for getting their brand out there, generating interest in their concept and generating leads as a result. Because industry-focused shows put sales and development at the forefront, brands looking to expand on both a national and regional basis can derive value from attendance.
IFE overview SMB Pavilion
MFV – International Franchise Expo
There are some well-known companies that produce franchise trade shows over the course of the year: MFV/Comexposium and National Event Management. MFV/Comexposium has a few large national events throughout the year, most notable being the International Franchise Expo, or IFE in New York City. If a brand is looking to grow on a national scale, IFE is a must-attend due to its sheer size—the event attracts nearly 20,000 attendees annually. Contrastingly, National Event Management produces a series of smaller, regional shows throughout the year that serve as excellent forums for regional growth.
In addition, broker consulting companies produce shows for the brands they represent in targeted cities. These may be good for the brand leadership teams to meet franchise candidates like The Great American Franchise Expo, some are designed more for the brokers and consultants to get to know the brand.
All told, these companies host dozens of events each year, giving franchisors ample opportunity to find and connect with interested franchise prospects in target growth markets across North America.
What’s not to like about that?
From the perspective of a franchise candidate, there’s a lot that’s appealing about franchise trade shows, too. For someone considering investing in a franchise, conducting research online—while still a vital part of the discovery process—doesn’t provide the level of insight into a brand and whether it’s actually the right fit for you that connecting with representatives from said brand face-to-face does. And if a candidate is new to the franchise industry overall, there’s arguably no better way to get acquainted with the ins and outs of franchising than walking the floor of an industry trade show.
2020 SMB Pavilion – face to face opportunity to meet candidates.
SMB Franchise Advisors
More often than not, aspiring business owners attend franchise trade shows with a preconceived notion of the franchise concept they want to invest in. That’s all well and good, but what I also see happen a lot of the time is those notions shattering simply due to exposure. Franchise trade shows present candidates with so much more variety than they knew existed, whether it be service businesses, Business-to-businesses, or emerging concepts poised to disrupt the larger players in a given sector. Prospects are always exposed to the vastness of the industry—and with that, more concepts they hadn’t previously considered as an investment option for themselves.
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These are the reasons why attending these trade shows presents such a great research opportunity for entrepreneurs considering taking the franchise route to business ownership. Because the industry is so vast, candidates can discover new concepts they likely hadn’t considered previously, broadening their perspective and understanding, which will only help them to arrive at the franchise concept that is the right fit.