Franchise marketing is different in many ways than marketing a local brick and mortar store or national company-owned chain. Franchisors want to ensure that branding stays consistent across the board, while franchisees want to do what’s best for their local market. It can be difficult to strike a balance between the two.
Even so, it’s far from impossible to develop a marketing presence—either as a franchisor or a franchisee. Here are some simple best practices for franchise marketing:
Start with strategy. The single most important thing you can do prior to executing is develop a marketing strategy. This strategy should identify your value proposition, your audience (national and local), your messages, and your marketing goals. This will be your North Star throughout any marketing you do.
Establish clear rules and brand standards—and enforce them. Whether you have two locations or two thousand, in the franchise world, ambiguity kills. Provide easy-to-follow rules for franchisees to use in their marketing, and ensure that your brand standards are clear and enforceable. If you don’t start with a clear set of guidelines, you’ll never be able to develop a unified brand across all of your locations.
It’s also important to enforce the rules you establish; in many ways, it’s up to you to make sure franchisees are up to snuff. Franchise marketing software—or an outside agency like WGi—can make your job easier in this regard, and in some instances can also make it easier for franchisees to order marketing materials that are guaranteed to be up to spec.
Provide and publish content that can be repurposed by franchisees. Publish and distribute messaging, images, and other marketing materials that are easy for franchisees to repurpose if they decide to. While it would be nice to assume that every franchisee will take the opportunity to generate their own marketing materials, it’s better to assume they won’t.
The easier it is for franchisees to use content you provide, whether for inspiration or direct republishing, the more likely they’ll be to stay in line with your franchise’s marketing goals.
Go cross-platform. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Developing a marketing presence that spans different platforms and tactics broadens your reach and also provides more tools for franchisees with unique local markets.
Clarify your strategy and establish key messages. Your franchisor (should) have a marketing strategy ready to hand down: what is it? To start, make sure you understand the goals of your franchisor’s marketing strategy. From there, take a top-down approach and figure out how that strategy ties into your own goals as a franchisee.
Now is also a good time to establish key messages. Extract what’s most relevant out of your franchisor’s strategy (making sure to stay within your guidelines, of course), and figure out how you’ll work that messaging into all of your marketing.
Stick to the rules and brand standards passed down by your franchisor. As a franchisee, it’s important for you to innately understand the marketing rules and regulations, as well as brand standards, of your franchisor. One big advantage franchises have is brand equity. Capitalize on your opportunity to positively represent the brand at large by ensuring you’re following the rules.
Repurpose with context. Franchisors will often provide materials, stock photos, press releases, and other marketing content for you to use—use them to your advantage! Whenever you can, use this content in your own marketing efforts. However, if you’re allowed, you should always try to give context. Your franchisor has the umbrella brand, but you have the local context. Find ways to tie franchisor-provided marketing materials into local events and your local community.
While utilizing what your franchisor provides is much better than nothing, it’s even better if you can frame it in the context of the understanding you have of your business’ specific location.
Identify which tactics are best suited to your audience and goals. In some cases, the tactics that are best for your franchisor may not be what’s best for you as a franchisee. A staffing agency is a great example. The franchisor’s overarching goal is to connect good people with good companies in all kinds of industries. One location may deal mostly with white-collar workers, while another staffs mostly blue-collar workers. The tactics best for marketing to each audience will not necessarily be the same, and it’s important to recognize those nuanced differences.
Again working within the marketing guidelines given to you by your franchisor, identify which tactics are best suited to your audience and your marketing goals. With those tactics identified, you can move onto execution and follow-through.
Do you need help with your franchise marketing planning or execution? We have experience with a number of national franchises and would love to help your business. Get in touch by contacting us here, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.