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Growing a franchise can be hard work. You have to think about corporate sales and marketing, as well as providing for the franchisees. Marketing strategies typically land in one of the following categories:
- Corporate marketing programs
- Corporate marketing programs for franchisees
- Additional marketing programs offered through corporate for the franchises
Each category above takes a lot of work, and you should not focus on just one because they all work together.
Corporate marketing programs
When I say corporate marketing, I mean marketing just from the business-to-business perspective. Basically, we are trying to attract more franchisees to the franchise. One of the main draws to any franchise is that there will be demand for business due to the brand credibility in the consumers’ eyes. Here are some of the things to consider when developing your marketing strategy:
- Have a location-based strategy. Almost all franchises have some kind of location element. That means all of your marketing strategy should be tied to location. On the corporate level, you’ll want to focus your efforts on the regions that you are trying to build out first. For example, you may start in Southern California, expand to Northern California and then to Arizona.
- Use online and offline marketing methods. When you do this, you need a good mix of online and offline marketing to build the brand and take the location by storm. For example, consider SEO, yellow pages, social media ads, billboards and sponsorships.
- Get on lists. Large business sites, such as Entrepreneur, have lists of franchise opportunities. Many of these lists are industry-specific, and will often state the best franchises to own at any given time. As part of the franchise-marketing strategy, it is a great idea to get on these lists.
- Get them into a funnel. People research franchise options heavily before purchasing one. One of the most important things you can do is get them into a funnel. Now, this can be some type of drip campaign using a tool like Infusionsoft or just a basic MailChimp email newsletter. Either way, you need to stay on their radar after you have captured their email and other actionable information.
- Make your brand glow. Not all of the marketing needs to be direct response. Keep in mind that people need to really like the brand. They need to feel as though the franchise is greater than their current business. Invest in great creative, a nice website and plenty of positive marketing to make people proud to invest in a franchise.
- Have a strategy to target similar businesses. This is different for every type of franchise, but one of the main ways some franchises acquire new franchisees is by going into a non-franchise’s business and doing a presentation about why they should switch over. This demands a great deck, plenty of supplementary marketing materials and a sales team.
Corporate marketing programs for franchisees
Outside of doing marketing to acquire franchisees and build the brand, it is also a good idea to have marketing services on the franchise level. This will need to be budgested as an expense per franchise (and the cost all depends on the franchise and the needs), and it will be highly targeted to the individual location. If possible, there should be one standard package and other larger packages which franchisees can contract directly for.
- You will need a baseline program. The baseline program should be provided by the franchise, but it can come out of a franchise fund. Generally, franchises will vote on a marketing program and budget at annual meetings. This would then get allocated to these programs.
- The program should be location specific. The baseline program needs to be very location specific. Online is a given, but if there are offline elements, such as billboard, direct mail or radio advertisements, then those need to be very targeted.
- You should have options to upgrade. When creating the options to upgrade, you want to make sure they are all somewhat affordable for the franchisees. Options should then be priced in a general range that makes sense across the board versus pricing differently per region.
- Work with an experienced agency. To build out this type of system internally is very tough. Especially if you are a new franchise with a small team. You need expert and experienced personnel. In most cases, it is a good idea to bring on an agency with heavy local advertising experience and, of course, franchise experience.
Additional marketing programs
Some franchisees will only own one or two franchises, but others will own five, ten or more. When this is the case, the franchisee will most likely consider their franchises as their own business. A franchise needs to have an agency they can trust to provide custom solutions to these type of owners. Make sure you have a solution for them that is dependable and can get them the results they are looking for.
Issues to be aware of
Two of the largest issues in marketing are communication and reporting. It is critical to be able to create a lot of reports, send them to franchises and have them be able to interpret it correctly. It is also important to have an open line of communication and excellent customer service. Without it, the value might not be fully understood. Marketing can get pretty complicated, especially digital marketing, so things like webinars and presentations are key to ensure there is ample understanding across all parties.
Mix it up
Smart marketing strategies will be a mix of attracting potential franchisees, assisting your franchisees in their day-to-day marketing efforts and helping your franchisees feel independent when needed. Regardless of your exact marketing strategy, your goal should be to attract franchisees and boost corporate credibility.