Epcon Franchising – Event-Based Lead Generation
Epcon Franchising (Epcon) is a production homebuilding franchising opportunity for builders, developers and investors. What makes the Epcon Franchise Builders unique is that they receive access to the plans, tools and resources that Epcon Communities has used during its rise to become a Top 50 U.S. Builder.
Before beginning this project it was important to understand who the ideal Franchise Builder is, the needs of the housing market and the needs of the target home buyer. Additionally, Epcon is constantly trying to uncover what a Franchise Builder needs to be successful. In late 2017, Epcon and Marketing Works organized qualitative interviews with several current Franchise Builders to understand their needs and pain points and how the issues can be addressed to make them more successful. We also surveyed prospective Franchise Builders on the topics most important to them in 2018 and beyond.
What we uncovered was that the two best target audiences for Epcon are current home builders and potential investors/developers. We also learned the two subjects most important to prospective Franchise Builders are: 1) providing them with the tools to compete with National Builders and 2) providing strong purchasing power and the repeatable plans related to identifying land, planning the development and building the homes. Based on this feedback, Marketing Works and Epcon worked together to create a plan to best reach the target audiences with the information they are seeking.
Based on our research, we needed to identify a cost-effective way to reach prospective Franchise Builders. When considering all of our options, the decision became pretty easy –The International Builders’ Show (IBS). IBS is the largest gathering of home building professionals in North America. The 2018 show had nearly 100,000 participants register and attend. For Epcon, this is the most important show of the year to reach their target audiences of current home builders and potential investors. Unfortunately, capturing the attention of these audiences is extremely challenging at such a large show.
This is why Epcon chose to sponsor a panel discussion featuring existing Franchise Builders to share the benefits of the franchising model when building homes targeting the 55+ active adult segment. In 2019, Epcon sponsored the following session: 55+ Housing Central: Exponential Growth Strategies.
The goal was to drive standing room-only attendance for the session (at least 80 participants). Another key objective was to push individuals to pre-register so the Epcon team could build on those self-identifying prospect leads and schedule meetings with each interested individual prior to and after the show.
The plan for IBS included a mix of digital (email, social media, Google Adwords, geofencing and custom landing pages) and offline (direct mail and print advertising).
Marketing Works and Epcon partnered together to create an integrated marketing strategy to promote the sessions at IBS. The execution of the strategy included the following:
Epcon created personal invitations to attend the session and mailed them to past 55+ Housing Central attendees. The invitations were mailed to nearly 850 people.
A couple custom landing pages were created for individuals to learn more about the session, communicate the details of the event and ultimately drive people to RSVP. Landing pages were created for the direct mail piece, advertisement and email programs so that the message and offer could be unique for each.
Print advertising is a part of Epcon’s marketing mix and the ads leading up to the show were tailored to highlight the IBS session and provided a custom URL to a landing page where those attending IBS could learn more about the session and RSVP to attend.
An email campaign was developed based on the content for the direct mail invitations. The emails were deployed to past 55+ Housing Central attendees as well as to Epcon’s target list of potential Franchise Builders.
Social Posts and Advertising
Epcon posted on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn promoting the session and Epcon’s IBS attendance. Additionally, during the show Epcon ran a geofencing campaign for individuals to receive digital ads through Facebook and Google if they were within close proximity to where the show was being held.
Epcon’s session was extremely well attended with more than 100 individuals staying for the full 30-minute session. While at the show, Epcon collected more than 150 potential new Franchise Builder leads and arranged for more than 15 immediate post-show meetings. Based on the marketing program for the IBS show, Epcon signed nine new Franchise Builders as well as 13 new market agreements (netting 1,275 new units into the market). This was more than double the number of Franchise Builders signed and new market agreements compared to previous years.
What follows are some of the results from the individual marketing program elements.
Email – The email campaign received very strong open rates and engagement compared to the industry average. The average open rate was more than 30% for all three emails (industry average is 14.1%) and more than 150 visits to the 55+ Housing Central landing page were generated.
Social Posts – The Facebook and Google geofencing targeted ads ran during IBS. On Google, Epcon received 93 clicks and 1,968 impressions; on Facebook, Epcon received 60 clicks and 3,639 impressions.
Landing pages –The 55+ Housing Central landing page received 450 page views, 200 unique page views and the average time spent on the page was 1 minute and 56 seconds.
IBS Sessions – The show took place January 8th through the 10th, with Epcon’s sessions taking place on the 9th. Session attendance was at maximum capacity as more than 100 individuals attended.
We are honored that this work was recognized as the PRism Award winner in its category at the 2019 PRSA PRism awards.