As a business grows it becomes more decentralized and risks losing control and relevance within various markets. This is a common issue facing franchisors seeking to grow their organization. Using franchise marketing, a franchise owner can raise awareness of their brand and help each branch thrive in its local market.
In this article, we discuss franchise marketing and how to develop and implement a strategy for your business.
What Is Franchise Marketing?
Franchise marketing is a strategy that employs several different means to promote a business. These include online and offline advertisements such as social media, website building, email and mail campaigns, in-store branded material and much more. The core focus of franchise marketing is building brand presence, awareness, and recall. For franchise business owners, this means using every available channel for brand promotion in each market.
Marketing Challenges Facing Franchises
The biggest obstacle facing franchises is the decentralization of the organization in regard to each location. Franchisors seek to keep the business uniform at every level while franchisees may feel that the corporate office doesn’t truly understand what is required to succeed in their local market. Every marketing decision has to be approved by the main office before it can be implemented, slowing down any means of change.
Other marketing challenges franchises face:
- Franchisee/Franchisor doesn’t understand SEO or the need for it
- Lack of control over franchisee compliance
- Lack of control over marketing efforts
- Inconsistent means of tracking data across franchises
How to Create a Franchise Marketing Strategy
A franchise marketing strategy is a methodical means of promoting your business based on research and company analytics. A good marketing strategy requires a solid understanding of the market you exist in, the local area and customers you serve, and an understanding of your business strengths.
1. Perform a SWOT Analysis
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as it relates to your business. Strengths and weaknesses are internal elements of your business. For example, strengths may be your wealth of research data or offering a product that is widely unavailable in your market. A weakness could be slow response time to customer complaints.
Opportunities and threats are concepts that largely relate to elements outside of your control. For instance, an opportunity would be to work with a new vendor or decrease the cost of supplies via a vendor relationship. A threat to your organization would be a new competitor entering the market or new regulations surrounding your product or service.
Designate a manager or group to perform the SWOT analysis. They will then gather data from customers and different departments of your business, including the market you function in. For this data, they are able to present an in-depth look at how your business is performing and identify any key opportunities for improvement. A properly executed SWOT analysis is the first step to planning for the future of your franchise. This analysis is beneficial for organizations of every size.
Set SMART Goals
SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound. Use the information you gathered in your analysis to create attainable short term and long term goals. Use these goals to create action steps to take for your marketing plan.
A specific goal is one that states exactly what you want to accomplish. This can be things like, improving customer ratings, spending less on activities or vendors that don’t add value, etc. Ensuring that your goals are specific will help members at every level of your organization understand what the company is trying to accomplish. This may prompt others to come up with solutions that can help each franchise thrive.
Measurable goals are goals that are quantitative or can be tracked in some way. It’s difficult to measure something qualitative like customer satisfaction but you can track customer ratings and social mentions. For example, studies show that 50% of customers are likely to complain by posting to social media. Track the number of positive ratings and postings related to your business to keep your goals measurable. These metrics help you identify where you are off course in your goals.
Actionable and Realistic
Actionable and realistic goals are ones that your organization can actually perform. Goals that state their means of accomplishment will help franchisors and franchisees understand where they are going and why, and how they will get there. Realistic goals will help maintain momentum and motivation for change by keeping goals achievable.
Finally, time-bound goals are goals with a deadline. Deadlines can be made around financial boundaries, customer seasonal trends and more. Adding a deadline to a goal makes it so that the amount of time and money you spend on a project does not continue indefinitely or fail to be accomplished.
Implementing Your Strategy
After analyzing your business/market, setting goals, and identifying your action steps it’s time to execute your strategy. Try to centralize your business as much as possible by utilizing social media, understanding local trends, and listing your business in major directories.
1. Educate Your Franchisor/Franchisee
One of the most important phases of executing your franchising strategy will be to get everyone on board. As a franchisor, educate your franchisees on what tactics will help to improve business in their market. To standardize your brand and ensure consistency across franchises, you should maintain all marketing and data tracking efforts at the corporate level. This means that business profiles on Yelp, Google My Business, and others need to be managed by the home office.
Data consists of customer leads, sales, online profiles, website activities and more. This becomes inefficient the larger your business is. Consider hiring an SEO service company that will help you maintain each franchise and its analytics. Alternatively, you may also require your franchisees to hire an SEO service of your choice to keep the business thriving at the local level.
2. Utilize Local SEO for All Locations
Local SEO involves raising brand awareness in the surrounding communities as opposed to at the national level. Channels for local SEO include:
- Google My Business
- Bing Places for Business
- Location-specific social media channels
- Yelp and other local review sites
Google My Business, or GMB, is a free tool for businesses to create a profile that appears in the Google search results. This information comes up when a customer performs a local search. Profile information should include:
- Name, number, and address
- Description of your business
- Business hours
- Holiday hours
- 4 and 5-star reviews
3. Utilize All Promotional Channels – understand local trends
Promotional channels for your franchise are all the places you can market your brand. The ones you choose will depend greatly on your audience. If your customers are older, advertising in local publications and on Facebook may be more advantageous than Twitter or Snapchat.
Local events can also dictate where and how you promote. For instance, if a festival is coming to town, promoting in similar locations to this venue can gain more foot traffic. As a franchisor, it may be beneficial to share local promotion duties with your branches. Franchisees will have a stronger idea of events in the area and what customers are looking for.
Examples of platforms for local promotion:
- Your website
- Newspapers and local publications
- Local physical and online directories
- Social media channels
- Online ads
4. Create Valuable Content
Content marketing is also called inbound marketing. It is a way to offer value to customers and generate free traffic to your website and business. Adding a blog to your website increases your odds of being discovered in Google’s search results. Adding video content and pictures increases the chances it will be shared.
Tailor content around sales and seasonal promotional efforts. Also, create content that reflects the area. Survey customers to determine what would be most valuable to them. Content can come in the form of video, blogs, photos or articles.
Examples of content for local franchises:
- Hijacking local news to reflect your business
- Content about your business and industry and how the area effects it or your target audience
- Producing FAQs for local inquiries
- Local media coverage
- Hosting local events and documenting it
- Sponsoring local events
- Collaborations with other businesses
5. Review and Reiterate
After implementing your strategy, the most important step to maintaining its success is review and reinforcement. Create action steps based on your goals and reinforce what works and eliminate what doesn’t. Compare how each branch of your business is performing versus another. How does each advertising effort generate leads? How many of those leads are converting to sales? What channels are generating the most leads?
These are just some of the questions you want to ask to determine which of your action steps are moving you toward your goals.
Building a Successful Franchise
The success of your franchises will depend on how well your franchisees buy-in to your marketing efforts, how well you design and implement a strategy, and how well you collaborate with your franchisees. To keep your business relevant in each market, devise a plan that allows each branch to participate in the marketing efforts. Use franchise marketing to saturate your local market, and encourage customers to choose you first over the competition.
Schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help you grow a successful brand and increase awareness.