Buying a franchise means you are the boss of your own business. Yet you also have many of the advantages of a much larger company...
One of those advantages is how franchise marketing works:
In most networks, your franchisor will provide things like national-level advertising – the sort of marketing you would never be able to afford as a new solo entrepreneur...
Yet it's important to understand how your relationship with your franchisor will work if you want to market your business most effectively.
Here's how to picture the franchise marketing strategy for your small business:
1) Understand your role in the franchise marketing strategy
Any successful franchise system will have a detailed marketing strategy already in place.
Part of this strategy will be a clear break down of where the franchisor will be responsible for advertising and where each individual franchise owner can or should do their own advertising.
There are several different approaches which have been adopted by various franchise networks when it comes to individual franchisees doing their own marketing:
- Total control – Some franchisors don't allow their franchisees to do very much advertising at all. All marketing is conducted at the brand-wide level. They see this as the best way to keep all advertising tightly on-brand.
- Strong support – Many networks will provide clear brand guidelines and allow individual franchisees to conduct their own local marketing in conjunction with the franchisor's national-level efforts. They may also provide some marketing materials for each franchisee to adapt to their local area. At the very least, most networks will offer market introduction advertising materials when you open your franchise.
- Guided freedom – Other networks may allow their franchisees to create all of their own materials. One of the requirements is usually that you submit any materials you create to your franchisor for approval before releasing them. This arrangement may be a permanent one or last for a certain introductory period (until your franchisor trusts that you understand how to create on-brand materials).
All of this is done so that to safeguard a cohesive brand identity...
2) Never forget consistency – you are both the brand
Consistency is the core of any brand. When you have multiple “mouths” which can distribute a message, as in a franchise network, it's all the more vital that your messaging remains consistent.
The whole reason why strong brands are so powerful is that people have an image of what that brand represents in their mind. They know what to expect when they visit. If they don't get that, problems arise.
That's why all of the leading franchises...
3) Pay attention to brand guidelines
Your franchise owner will have gone to great lengths to grow their business, build a powerful brand and develop the processes which will make your company a leader in the field.
When they offer franchise opportunities, diluting the power of a brand is always a major concern.
That is why most sensible franchise systems will have brand guidelines which cover:
- Where and how to use trademarks
- Copies of the official version of logos and other visual art (which are not permitted to be altered)
- How to speak and conduct all your messaging in the “brand voice”
4) Benefit from national-level marketing
Most franchisors will require that franchisees in their network either:
- Spend a certain amount of their gross sales on advertising in order to grow the brand.
- Contribute to a communal brand advertising fund.
These communal brand funds are used to deploy national-level advertising for which the franchisor is responsible. They may include:
- Specific advertising campaigns
- Television adverts
- Radio commercials
- Social media campaigns
- Online campaigns
- Direct mail campaigns
- Public Relations
Every franchisee will benefit from these efforts. They hugely increase brand recognition for everyone in the network.
5) Consider digital marketing for small businesses and franchises
Digital marketing for a small business is different from digital marketing as a franchisee:
- As a small business, digital marketing means you are a small fish in a large pond surrounded by some very big fish.
- As a franchisee, you are a minnow on the back of the whale of hard work your franchisor has done in terms of getting their name out there. This is pretty much the epitome of low-cost small business franchise marketing – lots of the work has already been done for you.
But it's vital that you don't rock the boat by going off on your own path when it comes to your SEO and content marketing efforts. As with everything else in any franchise marketing strategy for your small business, it's important to remember that you are part of a team.