Franchise marketing presents a unique set of challenges and rewards in the marketing world. Franchise businesses - whether they're smaller, local franchises or large multinational ones - require a strong focus on company branding and trademarking.
For a franchise business to succeed, the brand needs to be easily replicated and recognized regardless of location. This means that consistency is key in everything from location design, to logos, to products, and to your marketing efforts. Each franchise location needs to be immediately recognized as a part of the overarching franchise.
And how can franchises communicate what their brand is all about? Franchise marketing. We've put together some of the ins and outs that you'll need in order to successfully market a franchise business.
Creating your strategy
As with any marketing strategy, the first step is to develop a plan. With franchise marketing, this usually means that a dedicated marketing team at the flagship location will design and execute a marketing plan. Depending on your particular business model, individual franchise locations may or may not have some part in the marketing process.
But even if a part of your overall strategy is to allow your franchise locations to individually participate in marketing, it's vital to have an overarching marketing strategy that all locations can use. This is especially important in order to maintain brand cohesiveness and ensure that every location accurately reflects the brand.
Online presence and social media
Customers are increasingly interacting with brands on social media. They use the Internet to interact with, review, and find information about your brand.
Even if you decide to allow individual locations to have their own social media accounts or hashtags related to specific regional promotions, it's still important to have one official account for the franchise.
There can certainly be benefits to allowing specific locations to have their own social media accounts. It can be an opportunity to engage the local community and promote location-specific promotions.
Additionally, one of the most common ways for customers to reach out to companies is on social media platforms. Some companies have found it useful to have individual social media accounts in instances like these because any customer questions or issues can be more quickly handled by your on-site team.
However, when deciding who controls social media accounts, it's also important to consider if an individual franchise team has the ability or time to run their own social media account. Fielding customer questions, comments, and complaints is often a full-time job and depending on the capacity of your franchise locations, it may not be realistic to have a dedicated social media account for each location or region.
Most companies have a dedicated, central team at the corporate offices who handle all social media and online marketing. This will help ensure that the messaging of the brand stays cohesive and focused and will allow individual franchise locations to focus on serving the customer base and successfully running the franchise location.
Finding and retaining your customers
The customers are your franchise's lifeblood. In order for your franchise marketing to have the most impact and make the most of your marketing budget, you'll need to do plenty of market research in areas where you're opening a new franchise location. Create buyer personas and dig into what your ideal customer base looks like.
In addition to knowing who your ideal customers are, customer loyalty programs are also a fantastic way to not only get new customers but also to keep them coming back. Loyalty and referral programs have been proven to be highly effective as both marketing and customer retention strategies.
Of course one of the best ways to perform market research is to employ the help of a professional marketing company that can give you access to the research and market testing you need in order to successfully launch your marketing strategy.
Franchise marketing is a unique piece of the overall marketing landscape. There are plenty of moving parts and variables to consider. Franchise businesses require a level of cohesiveness and continuity in marketing and branding that can span multiple regions and that can be easily replicated in vastly different markets.
To achieve this, it's imperative to start out on the right foundation by creating an easily replicated marketing strategy, developing an online and social media strategies and location-specific promotions, and accurately identifying and reaching your ideal customer base. These basic factors will help guide you as you navigate the complex world of franchise marketing.