Franchise marketing fulfills the goal of building a strong brand for the good of all franchise locations. Because the advertising is meant to promote a brand rather than one single location, all franchisees in the system, as well as the parent company, have to convey a consistent message to potential customers.
This is why franchises set strict regulations on how their trademarks can be used and have specific criteria for the creation and use of marketing materials that portray their brand. The franchise company doesn’t want an individual franchisee to make and distribute marketing material that might end up hurting the brand and hurting other franchisees in the system.
It’s common for franchisors to provide marketing material and rules governing the use of that material to their individual franchisees to maintain control over how the logo etc. looks and how it is used. If the trademarks are misused, this can ultimately jeopardize the brand, which negatively affects all franchisees, so it’s in everyone’s interest for all franchisees to follow the rules regarding marketing material.
Franchisors will provide franchisees with marketing materials and official company art, which is typically done in electronic format these days. The franchisees can then customize this material to suit their individual locations, like putting their address on it.
In some rare cases, franchisees can create their own marketing material, but this will usually need to be approved for official use by the franchisor.
The majority of franchisors will have a marketing plan for the overall brand that is national in scope (or at least covers the entire region the brand has a presence in) and includes things like television, radio, print, internet and social media ads, as well as public relations and direct mailing efforts. This allows the franchisor to establish brand recognition on a large scale, benefitting all of the franchisees in the system. This may require franchisees to contribute to a pool of national marketing funds.
Some smaller franchises might not have a national marketing plan, but will attempt to do essentially the same thing by having all franchisees advertise in the same way in their individual markets. They will provide an outline to their franchisees for how to do this marketing.
Individual Franchise Location Marketing
In addition to marketing of the overall brand, most franchisors will require individual locations to do some advertising in their local markets. Initial marketing for the location’s grand opening, which begins several weeks before and lasts for several months after, is commonly required. Franchisees may also have to create an annual marketing plan for their location’s individual marketing efforts.
Many franchisors have a requirement that franchisees spend a specified percentage of their gross sales on local advertising. They’ll typically need approval for this plan and to provide proof of this advertising spending.
The first step in creating a marketing plan is research. You have to research the competition and the demographics of the customer profile you are targeting. You’ll need to know:
- You competition and how many competitors are within your target area.
- Your competition’s offerings and pricing structure.
- Their strengths and weaknesses.
- Their methods of advertising.
- What type of customers are in your area and where they are coming from (ie from nearby residential neighbourhoods on weekends or nearby office buildings during lunch breaks).
- What the needs of the individual customer groups are.
The next step is to purchase your advertising and create your ads, concentrate on the five “Ps” of marketing:
When choosing advertising, know who you’re directing it at and the message you want to send to that group of people. It’s not just enough to plan and run a campaign, you also have to assess the results of it to find out if it worked and it’s worth repeating.
Your options for advertising include:
- Direct Mail
- Flyers and other types of mailed content
- Referrals, community participation, sponsorships
- Search engine marketing, content marketing, website ads
- Outdoor Advertising
- Billboards, signs, posters
- Newspaper ads, magazine ads
- Promotions and Specials
- Coupons, cross promotions
- Social Media
- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
- Television and Radio
- Commercials, major sponsorships
Keep in mind that it’s common for franchisors to strictly control their online and social media presence. Many franchisors will control their individual franchisees’ websites and social media accounts.
The Best Kind of Marketing
Without a doubt, the best kind of marketing is word-of-mouth. When your customers are recommending your business to their friends and family, they are almost guaranteed to become customers themselves. That’s why it is so critical to not only attract new customers, but retain a loyal base of customers. You can do this with loyalty and reward programs to make sure you keep getting customers coming back. Also encourage them to leave reviews anywhere they can so others can read about their positive experience with your franchise location.
People will also listen to referrals from businesses they trust, so forging some referral partnerships with other non-competing businesses is always a good idea.
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