Franchise marketing describes the strategies franchisees and franchisors use to promote their brand, attract customers, increase revenue, and expand the franchise. It encompasses two distinct processes: operational franchise marketing and franchise development marketing. It’s typically enabled by modern software solutions like Tango Franchisee, which empowers your franchise sales team with data and even automates the production of franchisee marketing materials.
Operational franchise marketing is the promotion of your brand, products, or services to the public. Like most other varieties of direct-to-consumer (D2C) marketing, it can include advertising, public relations, sales, and online marketing. What sets it apart is the division of labor between the franchisor and the franchisee. The franchisor ensures each location of the franchise has a consistent brand image, while the franchisee provides relevant local messaging.
Franchise development marketing, on the other hand, is the promotion of your brand to prospective franchisees. This is done by the franchisor with the goal of growing your brand by establishing additional franchise locations.
This article will focus on operational franchise marketing, taking a look at how it pertains both to the franchisor and the franchisee.
As the franchisor, it’s your job to take the lead on marketing and make things easy for your franchisees. You’re in charge of defining the overall image for your brand and ensuring that franchisees uphold that image. That, of course, starts by identifying suitable franchise locations to avoid store cannibalization and set your franchisees up for success. But that’s just the start.
Creating a marketing strategy for a franchise is not all that different from creating a marketing strategy for any other brand. You’re creating a marketing roadmap for franchisees to follow. Here’s how it works:
- Establish your goals and objectives. What do you want to accomplish? What steps will you take to get there?
- Define your target audience. Who are your best customers? What are your ideal demographics?
- Analyze your competitors. Who are the other players in your field? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can you set your brand apart from theirs?
- Research and plan your marketing tactics. What channels are you going to pursue? What strategies will you employ?
As a franchisor, you’ll want to develop a marketing strategy that broadly applies to every franchise location—but you’ll likely need to tailor it for different regions. Determine whether each franchisee will have individual marketing channels, or just the national brand. And decide if it’s up to the franchisor to identify regional competitors.
Remember that the goal is not only to promote your brand, but also to equip each franchisee to thrive.
As you hand off the marketing strategy to your franchisees, don’t leave them guessing about what your brand looks and sounds like. Your brand guideline should define how your logo, imagery, and brand voice appears in every context a franchisee may need to represent you. Ideally, it will find a balance between allowing for individual creative freedom and presenting a consistent brand image.
The less prescriptive your brand guidelines, the more likely you are to have disparate representations of your brand, which weakens your overarching brand integrity.
For example, you’ll want to establish detailed policies for how franchisees handle email, social media, customer service, interior design, decor, and physical advertising. Create a style guide that goes over how to handle logos, typefaces, margins, and other visual and text-based representations of your brand. Include customizable templates and stock assets for franchisees to use.
Set up a control center—a centralized platform for holding everything to be shared with franchisees. This can include all the elements we’ve talked about here, such as style guides, templates, and assets, as well with email lists and other pieces of customer information, segmented by franchise location.
You’re responsible for the core marketing content for your brand. All brand-level blogs, social-media accounts, emails, ads, or other campaigns fall under your creative control. Put out engaging content that will win over customers and establish brand loyalty.
Beyond the brand-level content, you may also create customizable content for your franchisees to personalize and use at their locations. For example, you can produce ads that will run the same everywhere, except for the final few seconds which will contain the specific information for the individual franchise location.
As with everything we’ve discussed, your purpose here is to make it easy for your franchisees to make your business look good.
The franchisee’s job is to promote the brand as a whole while also attracting customers to the franchise location. They follow the lead of the franchisor, but don’t think that means their part is any less important. Each franchisee plays a crucial role in forming customers’ overall impression of the brand.
The franchisor determines the extent to which franchisees should use pre-made branded templates versus taking creative initiative on their own. The brand guidelines should be detailed where it counts, while offering freedom to hone the message for local customers.
Wherever the brand guidelines offer directions, franchisees ought to follow them. They’re acting as representatives of a brand that is bigger than the local franchise.
The franchisor knows the ins and outs of the brand itself, but they don’t know the area or local customer base like the franchisee does. So this is where franchisees really get to shine as marketers.
Franchisees should stay tuned to local interests, events, and sentiments. They might use their signage to cheer on sports teams in the area, sponsor important local events, or participate in seasonal activities.
They could also consider doing community service. Perhaps they could “Adopt a Highway” near the business or donate to local charities. Franchisees should find ways to root their franchise location into the community and become known for helping it thrive.
They’ll also likely be responsible for managing local reviews for the business. Franchisees will want to keep an eye on sites like Yelp and Google Reviews, being sure to thank customers who leave positive reviews, and encourage others to do the same. When possible, they can reach out to those who leave negative reviews and try to make things right.
Finally, franchisees will probably be in charge of local sales, promotions, and special events. They can give your customers extra reasons to frequent the business, being sure that any deals they offer stay within guidelines set by the franchisor.
Tango Franchisee helps you optimize your franchise locations, recruit new franchisees, and coordinate your marketing efforts. Our Franchise Portal makes it easy to engage with your franchisees, share resources, minimize conflicts, and manage agreements to ensure compliance.
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