Becoming a franchise owner can be an excellent opportunity, especially for first-time business owners. You get the benefit of a familiar name, established customer base, and corporate support. However, this type of business comes with limitations: You may have to work within a pre-determined approach to franchise marketing.
When you join a franchise as a location owner, you’re expected to follow the corporate-approved marketing plan. However, with so many factors at play, these plans may not be as effective as they could be. How can you tell if a marketing plan needs work?
Here are five red flags to look out for:
1. Tight Marketing Budgets for Local Franchising
Your franchise business success is directly tied to your access to resources. While efficiency is an important feature of a well-run operation, you shouldn’t be expected to make do with a shoestring budget.
When looking over your marketing plan, make sure the budget is reasonable. Do you have enough to employ professional franchise digital marketing experts? Or does the franchisor expect you do manage the campaign yourself? If you don’t have enough resources to create a high-quality campaign, you need to address this issue with your corporate partner.
Is there a concrete approach to ad support in your business plan? How much is corporate allocating for ads? Do you get a stipend, or does the company pay for services directly? If you don’t have details clearly laid out on paper, you need to discuss the specifics with your franchisor.
Paid advertising is key to targeting the right demographics. If you’re a new location, this marketing technique is especially important since it raises awareness of your business.
If you need to address budget issues with your franchisor, make sure you come prepared. Create a budget to show precisely where funds need to be spent for the best outcome. There needs to be a balance between efficient spending and quality results — remember, corporate is investing in you. It would help if you showed that their investment would have significant returns. Hard data can illustrate your concerns while providing corporate with a robust solution, leading to an outcome that works for everyone.
2. No Tailored Marketing
Franchises have the unique challenge of marketing to both national and local audiences. Stores have the opportunity to appeal to local customer bases through a variety of avenues, but they need the support of corporate to make a campaign reach its full potential.
Are there guidelines for local marketing approaches? How much freedom do you have? It can be challenging for franchisees to find the right balance between maintaining the brand and allowing each location to have its own appeal. If there are no guidelines in your marketing plan or they’re unclear, you need to ask for clarification.
So what makes local advertising so unique? It shows you’re part of the community. There are thousands of options to highlight your investment in a locale:
- Social media posts featuring employees and customers
- Community boards where locals can post notices
- Videos of employees or the company participating in local fundraisers or special events
Corporate should give you the tools and space to take full advantage of these simple, yet effective strategies. If you feel constrained or don’t have adequate access to resources, you need to discuss changes to the marketing plan with your franchisor.
Promotions and Deals
Special deals are a tried-and-true method to bring in customers, but you can push the idea even further with localized promotions. Is there a sports team that community members love to rally around? You can offer a deal based on its performance. In areas with extreme weather such as Arizona, some businesses even offer discounts based on the temperature. Make sure you understand the corporate policies and procedures for such deals; if they’re not included in the marketing plan, open communications for clarification.
3. Disconnected Platforms
One of the best franchise marketing tips is to take a data-driven approach; this necessitates data that’s accurate, regularly updated, and accessible. Franchisors should have a comprehensive system for measuring and analyzing data and providing support to owners. However, some corporations lack a centralized system, which can cause confusion, missed opportunities, and inefficiency if you’re unfamiliar with all the available resources. Before you start on your campaign, make sure you understand who to contact for assistance.
Not every corporation has an internal marketing department, especially if the company is small or just starting. In this situation, marketing may be outsourced to a dedicated agency. There’s nothing wrong with that — in fact, it can be beneficial to have experts handle campaign development and implementation.
However, some corporations have different agencies that handle different aspects of digital marketing, which may lead to a disjointed campaign if communications aren’t clear and thorough. When you’re looking over your marketing plan, take note of whether you’ll be working with an internal department or external agency.
4. Inconsistent Messaging
Even though locations need room to show off what makes their communities unique, messaging should stay consistent throughout the entire franchise. How can companies balance these two needs? With marketing guidelines.
Corporations should have definite, concrete guidelines on how franchisees may (or may not) alter their marketing approach. These guidelines should comprehensively cover these basics:
- Social media
- Print advertisements
- Digital advertising
With franchising, hundreds or even thousands of stores across the world may share the same name — and consumers expect a consistent experience at each. That’s where branding comes in.
Branding is generally connected to logos and slogans, but it can be used more broadly to create a company voice. Your marketing plan should outline the corporation’s values, desired tone, and overall message. If this information is missing, unclear, or contradictory, be sure to clarify with your corporate partner.
As one of the biggest (and cheapest) platforms for customer outreach, social media has a prominent place in digital marketing. With its use now commonplace, every corporation should have solid guidelines specifying who can post, where they can post and what they can post. If there are no policies in place governing social media, a franchise is putting itself at risk of inconsistent branding, offending its audience, or even becoming the target of litigation.
5. Lack of Marketing Expertise
While businesses each have their own limits based on funding, scope, and experience, there are a few things every company should have:
- Consistent multiple location citations (name, address and phone number)
- A user-friendly and informative website
- Paid search advertising and SEO content to increase your search engine ranking
If you don’t see these basics, you may need to work with your corporate partner to establish them.
What are corporate’s marketing goals? Are they specific and actionable, or vague and unworkable? If they’re the latter, you need to meet with your corporate partner. Like any area of business, marketing only yields results if all parties are working toward the same goals.
Are you having trouble implementing your marketing plan? That’s where V Digital Services comes in. We specialize in creating digital marketing strategies tailored to our clients’ goals. Through local and organic SEO, website design and development, social media management, and targeted paid advertising, we can boost your online visibility and increase your conversion rate. To find out more about our services or to schedule a consultation, give us a call at 888-441-0784 or contact us online.