As a franchisor or franchisee, you understand how important marketing is for your business. However, with marketing happening on both sides of the franchise, there can a fair amount of confusion that results in marketing that cannibalizes itself.
There are many methods to handle franchise marketing. Sometimes, the franchisor and a corporate marketing team are wholly in charge. Other times, the franchisee takes on all marketing responsibilities. Most often, it's a mix of the two.
It's easy to see how this arrangement could cause confusion for your customers. But by coordinating your marketing efforts, your brand message will be strong and clear across all franchise locations.
Large-scale, national marketing campaigns
Here are some tips for coordinating large-scale marketing campaigns between the franchisor and franchisee.
Focus on the brand
In a franchise, the brand is often the selling point for customers. They know they can trust a certain brand and will support that franchise, no matter where they are. This is why it's beneficial to focus on the overall brand image in your marketing efforts.
Provide a brand style guide
Franchisors can create a brand style guide for franchisees, to help them create on-brand materials and limit branding mistakes. It you aren't sure how to create a brand style guide, take a look at this blog post for some killer examples.
Here at Lucidpress, we're pretty obsessed with staying on-brand and empowering everyone (even franchise owners who have no design experience) to create visual content. If you're curious how Lucidpress could streamline your franchise marketing, then check this out.
Communicate clearly & frequently
To maintain your brand image across multiple locations, communication is key. Set the precedent that there will be consistent communication regarding marketing efforts between the franchisor and franchise owners.
One area that's often under-communicated is digital marketing strategy. The franchisor should coordinate website and social media creation with franchisees, so there aren't multiple accounts that could confuse or misdirect customers.
Looking at these marketing strategies, the biggest factor is the brand. Build a strong brand identity that will give your franchises a good reputation, then give franchise owners the freedom to create their own marketing collateral using approved brand assets.
Small-scale, local marketing campaigns
Small-scale marketing strategies should focus on specific efforts in the local community. Franchises often have the good reputation of the larger brand, but localized marketing is what will win the community over and create a loyal fan-base.
By empowering franchisees to control their own marketing on a local level (and by giving them the tools to stay on-brand), individual franchise revenue will soar.
Here are more tips for localized, franchise-level marketing.
Find local sponsorships
Talk to local charities, sports teams or schools in the area to find opportunities to donate to a good cause and get some advertising. This is a great way to show community members that you're invested in the area.
For example, when I was in high school, there was a Taco Time that always sponsored the school's football and basketball teams. Their sponsorship included banners hanging up at the football field and inside the gym. They sold food at the concessions stand and had their logo printed on the game rosters. As you can imagine, my friends and I ate a lot of tacos.
This was a worthy investment for this franchisee, as it showed their support for the community and offered unique advertising opportunities. The owner of the Taco Time had a great relationship with the community and people loved going to his location.
Personalize your messages
When you're advertising to a specific community, it's important to personalize your messaging for your audience. Every community is different, and by catering to yours, customers will feel special and more inclined to support you.
A great example of marketing personalization is CrossFit gyms. Each gym (or "box," in CrossFit lingo) has its own website and social media accounts that tailor their messages to the area where the gym is located. Whether it's about the weather or events happening in the city, these gyms create a local identity for themselves that members can be part of.
Encourage franchise owners to stay on top of trends and news as they create marketing for their franchises. Being in tune with the local news can help you spot opportunities and avoid embarrassing advertising mistakes.
Any time you post about current news or trends, make sure you do your research. An unfortunate example of this is DiGiorno. When the hashtags #whyistayed and #whyileft were trending on Twitter, DiGiorno tweeted "#whyistayed You had pizza." The problem: these hashtags were dedicated to discussing and raising awareness of domestic abuse—an incredibly serious cause. Needless to say, many people were offended by the tweet and DiGiorno quickly apologized for its mistake.
Be where your audience is
This, of course, is one of the most important rules in marketing. No matter how clever and wonderful your marketing efforts are, if your audience doesn't see them, then it's a waste.
So, find out where your local audience is: Do they spend time on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? Do they read the local newspaper? If so, that's where you should be, too.
Be consistent with the brand
Much of the traction and business a franchise location enjoys comes from the brand name that it carries. To continue attracting and retaining that business, it's important to stay true to the brand.
If the franchise brand is known for great customer service, then local managers have to make sure that customer service is a priority for them. Personalize each franchise to the local area, but stay true to the brand it represents. For example, maybe there's a way to provide outstanding customer service that's unique to your community.
A great example of this is Chick-fil-a. It's a well-known fact that if you say "Thank you" to any Chick-fil-a employee, they will reply with "My pleasure." Quality customer service is part of the Chick-fil-a brand, and customers can expect to receive the same level of customer service wherever they go. While each Chick-fil-a has its own concerted marketing efforts, they stay on-brand with their customer service.
Marketing within a franchise can lead to miscommunication and overlap if the franchisor and franchisee do not coordinate their efforts. However, through communication and a good brand management system, your marketing efforts can complement one another and culminate in more success.