A few months ago I blogged about the five things you need to do to create a killer website. (For your convenience, I’ll recap those later in this post.) Today’s post focuses on how some companies have successfully implemented these principles and designed, in my opinion, a very powerful site. I’ll present a screen shot of each home page and provide you with my thoughts regarding why these sites made my top four.
As I have blogged about this topic in the past, your website is a “living” extension of your brand. When done properly, your website can breathe life into your brand. Handled improperly, your website has the power to kill your brand. When was the last time you took a good, objective look at your website? If you haven’t done so lately, now is the time. But, where do you begin?
Let’s begin by repeating the five key questions you should ask yourself when evaluating your site. These will be the same five questions I will ask about the top sites I’m showcasing in this blog and will show you in just a minute.
Here is a review of the five key questions you should ask yourself during an evaluation of any site. Most likely, these same five questions are asked by a prospect before they ask you for more information:
1. What Are the Long-Term Prospects of the Brand?
Prospects who are considering an investment in a franchise have multiple financial options: competitive franchisors, real estate, private equity, equities, etc. Does your brand answer the long-term viability of the franchise system? Do you use testimonials addressing this question? How about a question and answer session with the President or Founder who can address the brand’s long-term plan?
2. Is Your Business Model Profitable?
How do you present the profitability of your brand? Do you make this point on the home page? Is it reinforced by the content throughout the site?
3. Does Your Brand Have A Clear Point Of Difference?
How does your brand position itself on the site? Is your unique selling proposition (USP) presented in a clear and impactful way? Is the USP reinforced throughout the site with pictures, content, video, and testimonials?
4. What’s Your Story?
Every brand has a unique story. How do you tell yours? Does it “connect” on emotional level so your visitors feel like they are getting to know you on a personal level? Do you show customers (fans) using the product or service? Do you post customer comments? How about linking to your Facebook and Twitter pages so visitors can see your brand from your customer’s point of view? Do you have content on the site from the founder focusing on “why” they launched the company?
5. Are You Building Trust?
Branding is more than a logo. It’s about communicating a promise between you and your customers and providing that again and again. The bottom line is that’s what franchising is all about. A successful delivery system of a unique selling proposition that is repeatable and scalable. When a prospective franchisee visits your website, will they say, “They get it! This is the company I want to invest in!”?
And now, onto the “killer” websites:
ServiceMaster’s clean website provides the reader with content, videos, and testimonials that achieve three objectives: 1) Tells a clear story 2) Builds trust , and 3) Educates. I like this site because it provides transparency by providing a link directly to their corporate values. In addition, it offers valuable content that helps educate the prospect about franchising. Clearly, deals accelerate when the sales process begins with an educated prospect. Finally, if the franchisor is using marketing automation tools, prospects can be scored and prioritized based on what videos they watch, what material they download, etc.
Moe’s Southwest Grill communicates its clear point of difference through its colorful and clean design approach. I also like the way they provide easy educational tools for the prospect and, as a QSR, they have clearly identified the importance of real estate by focusing on that key issue right up front. You get the sense when you study their home page that Moe’s is seeking a more sophisticated prospect – a restaurant operator – who may be new to franchising.
I’m a big fan of content, and Great Clips does not disappoint. This clean and inviting site provides multiple content opportunities as well as forms to encourage prospects to provide their contact information. The news section educates the prospects about the values of the franchisor. The branding and history section tells the corporate story. And, the tip and info section provides content that is targeted possibly to their target market.
If you follow my blog, you most likely know that I worked with Hurricane Grill & Wings to develop this site. But, I think it is important to note that their success is a clear result of setting and implementing a focused five-step franchise marketing approach. First, they use their franchisees to tell their story. Second, Hurricane – right up front – says that they have a profitable business model. Third, when it comes to educational content, Hurricane offers the Simple Restaurant Investment Guide, webinars, tours, and additional franchise information. Fourth, their clear point of difference is communicated through the web design. Finally, they build trust by providing an interview with the President in video as well as in print.
I hope these sites inspire you to create your own killer website. Send me a link to your website and/or other powerful sites you’ve found that you’d like to share. I’d love to see them.
P.S. You won’t to miss my next few blog posts that will feature my interview with Salim Notta, President of eMaximation, which is highly useful and thought provoking.