We've conducted public relations and marketing campaigns for several franchises, and individual franchisees, over the years. With each experience and client, we've learned some general do's and don'ts when it comes to marketing a franchise to consumers. If you're a new franchise owner or manage a national franchise brand, this one's for you.
1. Keep it Consistent - The benefit of buying into a franchise is that it (hopefully) already has an established brand. As a new franchisee, use this to your advantage! Don't try to re-create the wheel. Instead, use what the experts have given to you and build on it from there. For national franchises, please, please make sure you have a brand guidebook and are monitoring closely to ensure brand consistency. As a franchise, you have many entities using your logo, ads and other marketing materials. These should come with a list of regulations and training to ensure that, although there may be many stores/locations, there is only one look and voice.
2. Keep it Local - Consistency is key for overall branding, but franchisees should be given independence when it comes to connecting with individual communities and adapting to local market needs. Each franchisee should be managing local Facebook business pages, Twitter accounts and granted access to a web page (as part of the national website) that can be customized for local community outreach. You don't want a national marketing team in Los Angeles creating Facebook posts for a store in Charlottesville, VA. Customers will see right through it, and your engagement will drop. Nor, do you want one central page posting about events and specials all over the country. Your message will be lost, as well as your readers. As with branding, though, monitoring and training are keys to making this work.
3. Keep It to The Experts - As a franchise, you'll want to have a strong marketing team - internal, external or both - for many reasons:
1. Keeping a finger on the pulse. As a franchise executive, your time should be spent running the business. Your marketing team, on the other hand, should be focused on promoting your brand and creating successful campaigns. They also should be monitoring for brand conistency and customer satisfaction.
2. Working with franchisees on local community outreach, assisting them with national campaigns and responding to individual requests. Whether you have 10 or 75 franchise locations, you need a strong communications team to be able to effeciently and effectively manage all of the activities and requests.
3. You're the expert at growing and managing the business, they're the experts at marketing it. Although you need to be involved in the marketing efforts, especially in the beginning as messaging, plans and brands are developed, don't try to be the master of all things. This is an area where you can bring in outside experts and delegate appropriately while still keeping your toes in the water to help it succeed.
4. Keep it Flexible - When it comes to marketing a franchise, flexibility is another factor. Just because a campaign worked in Seattle doesn't mean it will work in Miami. You have to consider the different cultures, markets, consumer behaviors, and more. Rather than having franchisees adopt a one-size-fits-all campaign, allow them the flexibility to tweak campaign messaging and promotions for their markets.
5. Keep it Simple - A franchise needs its franchisees to adopt to its brand standards, marketing materials, email templates, promotions, signage, etc. All of this can be overwhelming for an owner. Make sure your templates, promotions, artwork and other materials are easy to find, use and, ultimately, adopted across the board.