As a marketing and franchise consultant, I do a lot of work to help franchises generate more leads and improve their marketing in general. Part of that is comparing their current marketing efforts to what their competitors are doing. And what amazes me is how little competition my clients have. Where are the USPs? Does anyone even know what a USP is?
I’m showing my age. In the era of non-digital marketing, a USP was a unique selling proposition. A benefit that made your business or product stand out from the others. These days, we talk about CVPs or customer value propositions.
The difference may seem subtle but it’s huge. Making your business or product stand out is no longer enough. The customer has to care about why it stands out.
Oddly, the competitors I research on behalf of my clients don’t seem to care whether their prospective customers care or not. I just did some research for a client of mine in the commercial cleaning franchise space. I found there wasn’t much difference between my client’s website and their competitors’ websites.
Here are some examples, but I must stress here that these screenshots of home pages and my comments on them aren’t intended as criticisms of specific cleaning franchises’ marketing, but as a way of making my point about the blandness of marketing across entire industries, not just the cleaning industry. For this reason, I have blurred out logos, phone numbers and other identifiers.
This website is not unattractive but why can so few franchises resist showing photos of their franchisees or themselves? Yes, this photo makes it pretty clear what the franchise does – but was the visitor under the impression that this was a lawn mowing franchise? And yes, the photo also shows how happy and well presented the franchisees are, but who is this supposed to convince – potential customers or the franchisees?
This home page has some good things going for it. The video featuring someone with the title “Dr”, presumably a doctor of hygienology, conveys an impression of authority and professionalism. But are the people in the photo below the same franchisees as in the first website? Are they wearing the same uniforms?
It doesn’t get any simpler than this – franchise brand, two “click here” options and an 0800 number. Plus three smiling franchisees, one leaning on his broom. At least the uniform is different from the last two websites.
This website proves that not all commercial cleaning sites have to be either blue or green – they can be both. This is by far the best site we’ve seen so far. To begin with, there’s the credibility that comes from being approved by the Asthma Foundation. There’s the promise of a healthier, happier workplace. And to prove it, there’s a photo, not of franchisees but of some pretty healthy and happy customers. Perfect except for one problem. Do they seriously think those customers look like Kiwi business people? Isn’t that person smiling at the camera Barack Obama?
We weren’t going to include this website because it’s the dullest of the lot, although at least there’s some orange as well as the obligatory blue. A franchisee is featured again, and she is cleaning a fairly flash looking bathroom. This franchisor has been led to believe by a web developer that you need to use lots of text loaded with keywords to improve your SEO (search engine optimisation, for the uninitiated). That certainly may help to bring visitors to the site, but who’s going to read all that text? And what else is there to convince a prospective customer to use this franchise’s services?
Just in case you were thinking that New Zealand commercial cleaning franchises may not be as marketing savvy as international commercial cleaning franchises, we thought we’d look at one of the world’s biggest. Which also turns out to be one of Australasia’s biggest, according to this site. Leadership is this franchise’s claim to fame, and who doesn’t want to be associated with a leader? I’m not sure, though, that I’d like to fill out the daunting-looking enquiry form.
“Measurable cleaning?” “Total accountability”? Now you’re talking! With nearly 8,000 franchisees, this international franchise clearly has the success of its customers at its heart. Even though all of its homepage photos bar one shows franchisees at work. However, there is a lone customer testimonial at the bottom of the page...
“Is your office XXX clean?” It’s not? You mean it has “The Ewww Factor℠”? Never mind, you can get a free G.E.R.M. Scan®, otherwise known as “General Evaluation of Residual Microbes®”. That way, you can make “Your World A Cleaner Place®”. Nice. No wonder this franchise has 8,000 franchisees.
Before you saw these websites, you may have thought there wasn’t much a business in a commoditised industry like commercial cleaning could do to differentiate itself or create its own CVP, but hopefully you’ve now come to the realisation that yes, it can. In fact, it could do so much more than the franchise systems which created those websites. Any business can differentiate itself meaningfully from its competition, even if it’s only through the power of its branding and marketing. How else could a company like Coca Cola differentiate its main product?
There are several reasons why so many franchise websites are so poor, in my opinion. To begin with, many franchisors seem to see their websites as completely different from their other marketing, for some reason. Many web designers seem more concerned with design than marketing – that is, how good it looks rather than how well it works. Many of them also seem preoccupied with driving traffic to the sites but neglectful about converting visitors to customers. And most don’t know a CVP from their ASS.
If you’re struggling to get your prospects to start caring about your product, service or business, talk to me. I have many years’ experience in marketing as well as franchising and hopefully by now I do know a CVP from my ASS.
Article by Robin La Pere, No Ordinary Business and Franchise Consultants
Contact me at email@example.com.
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