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The Death of "Franchising"

Before we get to the meat of today's topic, let’s play a quick game of word association. I’ll say (write) a word, and then you say (think) the first things that come to your mind.


Here we go.

Word #1: Franchising.

Remember whatever came to mind when you read it.


Word #2: Small Business.

Now remember that.

And finally…

Word #3: Entrepreneurship.

Ok. Excellent.

I don't know what you were thinking (believe it or not, I can't read minds), but here's a quick taste of what comes to mind for the general public.(I’m going to enlist the help of Wordle, a tool that aggregates and displays different word associations.)

Here’s a WORDLE that you would find if you looked up “franchising” --

Franchising Wordle

There is clearly a lot to unpack here, but some of the more prominent terms you’ll find here are “business,” “capital,” “owner,” and “FDD.”

Alrighty, here’s “small business” –

Small Business Wordle

Here you’ll find “credit,” “banks,” “economy,” and “President.”

Before I get to the Wordle for “Entrepreneur,” I want to point out that these terms have quite the serious vibe. I’m not sure what came to your mind when you were first thinking about it, but odds are that these depictions aren’t half bad.

Ok, here’s “entrepreneurship” –

Entrepreneurship Wordle

Look at some of the words you find “optimistic,” “venture,” “achievement,” and “initiative.” Think about how different the words you see here are compared to the previous two charts.

Who wants to be involved with “credit” and “banks” when they can think about “achievement?”

What’s unique about this particular comparison is that ultimately, in the context of attracting new people to the franchisee concept, all three words can mean the same thing.

Whether we’re asking someone if they’re interested in becoming a “franchisee,” “small business owner,” or “entrepreneur,” we’re ultimately after the same thing --Can we inspire people to pursue becoming self-employed by opening their own business?

We think of it as_translating _the franchisee experience into language that a potential franchisee may understand. In other words, it’s our job to make the idea of becoming a franchisee as relatable as possible.

Before I dive into the resultsthis specific translation challenge, let me walk you through the process we use to accomplish these translations. Ultimately, it comes down tothree different strategies:

  • Copy Testing – One of the most powerful tools in our marketing arsenal is the ability to actually serve two (or more) different versions of copy and see exactly how people respond. This means ad copy, emails, how our website reads, blog posts, etc. We can measure how people engage with different words. (If you want to learn more about copy testing, check out this post that we wrote about one of our more successful tests)
  • 3rd Party Information – Using a tool such as Google Trends, we’re able to see how the country’s interest in a topic has ebbed and flowed over the course of time. For example, here are the Google Trends graphs for the words we spoke about earlier


2005 - 2015 Google Trend Report for Franchising

Small Business

2005 - 2015 Google Trend Report for Small Business


2005 - 2015 Google Trend Report for Entrepreneurship

Notice how “franchising” and “small business” seemed to be trending down over a 10 year period, while “entrepreneurship” is trending up.

While this isn’t Absolute Truth, it’s a pretty good signal as to what people want to read about over the course of time.

  • Common sense – Ultimately, writing good copy isn’t a quantitative exercise. It’s about using your creativity to perfect the art of persuasion. So you can’t simply look at a graph and know what words to write. You may end up with a sentence that reads, “And the best part is that they have the lowest entrepreneur fee in the industry, only $20,000!” (Ok. A bit of a stretch. But you get the point.) I can tell you what people want to read about, but that doesn’t mean that you’re the person they want to hear it from. So we have to layer on quite a bit of good ‘ole fashioned common sense when we’re thinking about what to say.

So finally now,what are the implications for “franchisee?”

Frankly, in my opinion, it’s dying.

Here’s what we know about it:

  • The word association with “franchising” is wrought with scary terms.
  • Although we didn’t present the data here, engagement with “entrepreneurship” is way higher than “franchising”
  • Google Trends tells us that people search for “franchising” about half as frequently as they did ten years ago. (Yikes!)
  • “Entrepreneurship” is a hot topic these days. No matter where you turn, you’re faced with the success story of a modern business starter. Gates, Zuckerberg, Jobs, etc. People want to be a part of that world.

It’s time to re-evaluate how franchises are branding the opportunities they provide to prospective franchisees.

“Become an entrepreneur with us!” is bound to drive far more people to your company than “Become our newest franchisee!”

If you’re interested in learning more about FranchiseHelp helps franchises find entrepreneurs, shoot us a note!

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