Franchise marketing is the process and methods franchisors and franchisees use to attract and retain new clients and customers. This type of marketing serves two purposes. First, it’s the process of finding new franchisees. But it’s also how your business attracts customers on a local level.
What’s different about a franchise is the unique relationship between the franchise business owner and the franchisee. The two need to work together in an honest working relationship and gain success for each other. Franchise marketing tends to be more challenging because you are thinking about all these spinning cogs on a global, national, and local level. Your marketing plan needs to be consistent across the business while being replicable.
In this article, we try to understand the ins and outs of franchise marketing and some best practices you can implement throughout your franchise.
Skip ahead to:
- What is franchise marketing?
- Franchising statistics you need to know
- How to approach your franchise marketing strategy
- 9 ideas and tips for your franchise marketing plan
What is franchise marketing?
The reason that franchise marketing can be challenging is because you have to take into account a broad corporate level and individual locations. On top of this, your target audience shifts from potential franchisees to customers for your franchise locations.
Franchise marketing is any activity that grows your business. Let’s break it down:
- Operational franchise marketing – this is the marketing activity both you and your franchisee use to attract customers. This could be search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, email marketing, your website, and PPC advertising.
- Franchise development marketing – this is what the franchise owner does to attract potential franchisees to grow the franchise business.
As you can see, you can break down franchise marketing into two completely separate elements. There will be crossover in the marketing channels you use for franchisee marketing and your overall franchise business. But both are equally as important in attracting the right franchisee to grow your business and customers to increase your bottom line.
Franchising statistics you need to know
As an entrepreneur, you tend to have two options when it comes to business expansions. You can open independent locations as part of a multi-location business, or you can franchise. Franchising is a popular way to grow your business with some of the top brands using the franchise business model.
Globally, the franchising industry continues to skyrocket across multiple sectors. Roughly 300 companies start franchising every year. The franchise industry employs more than eight million people in the US with 3% of the GDP accounted for by franchises. That equates to $757.2 billion with 773,603 franchise establishments in the US.
Interestingly, franchising has a big market share in several different industries. There’s no denying that the franchise industry has been impacted by the pandemic, along with the rest of the world. But recovery looks strong, and franchises continue to add new locations and grow on a global scale.
We’ve seen how franchises have continued to see success throughout the coronavirus crisis despite huge challenges and changing consumer priorities. You can see how some brands were quick to make decisions that were completely relevant in the situation. For instance, one of the top food franchises, McDonald’s, partnered with Mayo Clinic. From this partnership, they were able to advise all of their franchisees across the country on how to approach hygiene, cleanliness, and safety. Not only did this help to reassure customers but also protect employees from exposure to the virus.
How to approach your franchise marketing strategy
Like most industries, franchises are seeing a major shift toward digital marketing. Traditional marketing methods like public relations, direct marketing, and advertising are becoming less relevant within certain industries. Building digital marketing channels, having a good online presence, and optimizing for SEO are all crucial in your approach to franchise marketing.
Marketing is key to success for both the entire franchise and the individual franchisee on a local level. As a franchise owner, it’s your job to provide a blueprint for growth. A major part of that growth is your marketing strategy. Although brand awareness and presence have a role to play in decision-making, a digital marketing playbook that you can replicate is essential.
At the same time, you want to attract high-caliber talent with who you can form a unique working relationship with. People are everything in franchising and finding someone who embodies your brand and passion is key for sustained long-term growth. Potential franchisees will evaluate your digital presence, social media channels, and marketing techniques to determine if they want to open a franchise. The top-level of talent are looking for innovative brands at the forefront of the industry who can support them on their journey to success.
When it comes to strengthening your franchise marketing strategy and crafting a blueprint for success, standardization and location-specific marketing are key. All your major marketing initiatives will revolve around telling your brand’s story. To maximize your efforts, that story, your brand, and the consumer experience should be consistent. Your marketing plan needs to not only raise brand awareness and establish market position but also deliver ROI for franchisees.
9 ideas and tips for your franchise marketing plan
It’s important to keep in mind that your franchise marketing plan serves multiple purposes. You’re creating a strategy for you, your business, and your franchisees. By thinking about how your marketing plan underpins those overall business goals of attracting consumers and franchisees, you can implement some best franchise marketing practices. Here are nine ideas to help you craft a marketing plan for franchise growth and success.
1. Create clear brand guidelines
The foundation of a cohesive marketing strategy is crystal clear brand guidelines. This will form part of your overall franchise manual. It should be very clear and easy to understand. Good brand guidelines include a few different sections. Start with your brand overview. This would include your vision, mission, values, and history. It should give franchisees a good idea of the brand identity.
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In addition, brand guidelines typically include a mission statement, operations instructions, and appearance guidelines. The brand needs to be consistent across all locations and platforms. For this to happen, franchisees should have access to the same imagery.
2. Social media marketing
Social media is a crucial marketing channel. Not only can you engage with customers, but a strong online presence is essential for building brand awareness and attracting high-quality franchisees. Your social channels also play a role in reputation management, responding to customers, and dealing with complaints in a timely fashion.
As a franchisor that operates multiple locations, you will likely be dealing with various mentions and comments. Creating a positive social media experience is important for attracting new customers and a key part of the decision-making process.
3. Leverage content marketing
Content marketing is a key part of any marketing strategy. Whether you’re creating videos, blogs, podcasts, or infographics, content marketing is crucial. Content provides value to customers, improves the consumer experience, and drives value all while positioning your brand as an authority.
Like other parts of the business, the franchisor provides the tools, resources, strategy, and plan for content and the franchisee executes the process following the plan. For content marketing, it’s important to define goals, create a content plan and process, and track everything. Depending on the size of your business, you may need to create content teams and appoint a central content director.
4. Utilize local SEO
For your franchisees, local marketing is key to their success. The local franchise marketing approach will fall under the general marketing strategy for the business. But it’s important that you give your franchisees the resources they need to succeed at a local level as their success is your success.
Utilize local-based landing pages, optimize your content and web pages for local search and create separate local business listings for each franchise location. The benefit of joining a franchise is that you’re typically running an already-established brand and business. Local success at an individual-location level is a very important driver.
5. Know your target audience
As your marketing is dual purpose, you tend to have different target audiences. So, you have your customers which in itself may be broken down into various customer personas and demographics. When it comes to marketing, understanding who you are talking to is one of the most important aspects of crafting an effective marketing plan.
On the other hand, you’re also targeting business professionals and entrepreneurs interested in running their own businesses. As a franchisor, who you choose to invite into your franchise community can have a big impact on your brand’s success. Personality, skills, qualifications, and experience all have a role to play in finding the right franchisee.
6. Integrate paid digital marketing
There are a lot of paid marketing opportunities that franchises can take advantage of. With paid social media marketing and paid advertising, there are a lot of online opportunities to get your message in front of the right people. For individual franchise locations, you can implement paid marketing strategies on a local level and on a national brand level, depending on your goals, target audience, and intentions. Paid digital marketing like Facebook or Instagram Ads has highly targeted features that allow you to pinpoint potential customers effectively.
7. Don’t forget direct mail
Although digital marketing tends to take a lot of time and energy, direct mail does work well for certain industries and businesses. There are a number of large and well-known companies that successfully use direct mail. The main reason to use direct mail is that it’s a good way to target your customer base.
There are customer groups that appreciate offline communication and marketing. It’s important that you craft industry-specific direct mail that works for your business. Sectors that tend to utilize direct mail more are charities and not-for-profits, local repair companies, recruitment, healthcare, and dental care.
8. Personalize and automate marketing
Both personalization and automation offer several benefits in the world of marketing. The pair go hand-in-hand in setting the foundation for a great marketing plan. It’s the 21st century and most people have fully embraced automation in various aspects of their lives.
Sometimes it can feel like using automation will make your marketing campaigns or communication feel robotic or impersonal. But this really isn’t the case. Through automation, you can further segment your audience and target them with highly personalized messaging and content.
9. Tell your brand’s Story
Great storytelling is a must-have marketing tool. It helps to show your audience your authenticity and transparency. This goes a long way in building trust and brand awareness. Ideally, you don’t want your customers to just choose you because of the price. You want them to choose you because of your story; why you do what you do.
If you can tell your story in a way that relates to your customers and develops a connection, you can showcase your values in a non-salesly way. Your franchise brand story should be intertwined in your marketing materials. Think about the way your website and social media channels support your story.
In general, the best franchise marketing strategies have the perfect balance between franchisor and franchisee control. While it’s important to retain brand consistency in marketing, especially in franchising, franchise locations need marketing resources locally. As hard as it might feel to be hands-off in your business, creating a marketing plan that gives your franchise community the tools to succeed is key. By following franchise marketing best practices and adapting your strategy to your industry and target audience, you can craft the marketing blueprint for optimal growth.