All of the most successful franchise marketing plans have certain things in common.
Avoid common mistakes and get the best results with your new plan by making sure that you:
1) Have multiple smaller goals within your overall plan
Achieving the overall goal of your franchise marketing campaign - which as always, should be a numeric, measurable target - can feel like a huge mountain to climb. Like any task, breaking this down into more achievable sub plans with clearly defined sub-goals, metrics, and sub-timeframes will make the process easier.
The other benefit of breaking your plan down into smaller goals is that it will allow you to make sure that you're on course for eventual completion of your overall plan. Continual checkpoints will allow you to alter strategy, tactics, or timeframe if it becomes clear that your original plan is not going to be achievable.
2) Share the successful strategy of one franchisee with the others
In every franchise business, some franchisees are going to outperform the others. You need to find out why. Borrow their successful tactics, edit them to adapt them to your other local markets if necessary, and share the idea with your less successful franchisees.
3) Engage and listen to your audience
Building a community is a productive and profitable step in modern marketing. This requires you to engage with your audience - usually across multiple channels. Inbound marketing techniques will be your friends here. Being helpful, willing to interact, and listening to your target audience's feedback will also prevent you from wasting funds on tactics and channels that are less productive.
4) Test new things
Trying new things keeps your content fresh and engaging. But diving blindly into a new tactic can be extremely wasteful.
A lean marketing approach, where you're ready to pivot further towards or away from new channels or tactics can help you test out new things.
By taking small risks and monitoring feedback on a daily basis, you manage the potential negative outcomes - which are all too easy to dwell on if you're used to doing things in a certain way.
5) Develop a cross marketing strategy, rely on more than a few channels
Engagement with your audience across multiple channels is a definite "do". This allows you to share your message in different ways, in line with how users actually use and expect content to be delivered on different channels. You would expect to receive different content via Twitter than you would via email, for example.
Using several channels also means that you have backups in the event that your most successful channels are blocked in some manner. If your rankings on Google were suddenly slashed, for example.
6) Create engaging and helpful content, have a strategy
Boring content is not going to get you anywhere. That's because there's no reason for anyone who doesn't know you to like, share, or interact with it in any way. Your content needs to engage with your audience, and speak to their interests. Experiment with different formats. If necessary, adopt a lean approach in order to try out new formats with little risk.
In addition, even the most excitingly creative content team can have problems planning when and how to deliver it. Consider looking at print media techniques - designing workflows and processes so everyone is aware of their responsibilities, for example - when planning your strategy.
7) Create a distribution plan for your content
It's all very well having great content, but how are you going to distribute it? Different types of content are best deployed via different channels, making a coordinated strategy a must.
Content promotion is an often-overlooked part of distribution too. You should spend more time promoting your content than you do creating it.
8) Measure cost per acquisition
So you've decided to take some good advice and engage with your audience across multiple channels. Are they all equally cost effective? Measuring your cost per acquisition will help you determine where to focus your efforts, and where your money is being wasted.
Even a large franchise marketing budget is no reason to use anything other than the most cost effective channels.
9) Build a reputation and authority
Own your brand positioning and market niche. Like, re-tweet, and share content relevant to your niche - that which your research shows your audience finds appealing. Let your audience become used to seeing your well- planned and helpful comments on posts by influencers and other voices in your niche.
Become a presence that they associate with your industry. Become a voice of knowledgeable authority on your subject.
10) Study the moves of your competitors closely
This is not about outright stealing your competition's ideas. But monitoring how effective your competitors' different channels are, or how their different marketing tactics are performing, can help you decide whether to go ahead with your latest strategy. Or how to edit your about-to-launch campaign.
That said, simply copying your competitors is never going to be anything other than a very short-term, and possibly counterproductive, marketing strategy.
1) Skip out on the details
Avoid any tendency to generalise. Your plan needs to be costed down to the lowest level you can manage. And you need as much data as you can possibly get in order to do that.
Just as it's easier to achieve and to measure your overall strategy when you break it down into smaller units, breaking down your estimates and projections into their smallest units will make them more accurate.
2) Think that the marketing guidelines you had set last year still work flawlessly
Is your plan a "tried and tested" marketing solution? Perhaps. But that was tried and tested last year, when your market conditions were almost certainly different to what they are now.
Never rely on anything but up-to-the-minute data when planning your franchise marketing.
3) Ignore inquires or give generic responses
Customers want to know that you care - even a little bit. Failing to provide helpful responses that are unique to a specific customer's issue is bad customer service, plain and simple. But more, in today's hyper-connected world, one little bit of bad customer service can quickly spread a long way.
Conversely, very good or very witty and helpful replies can rapidly become viral content all of their own.
4) Shy away from new tactics
Your audience might be used to getting certain things from you in a certain way, but don't let things get stale. Even changing up the format of your content can be enough to keep things exciting.
As with all new things, taking a small step can often be less daunting than a giant leap. For this reason, adopting a lean approach is often a great way to try out new tactics. Remember that new tactics should always be introduced with the aim of helping you achieve your overall goal.
5) Focus on a single platform or channel
Focussing all of your franchise marketing on a single platform or channel - even one that has a proven high ROI - leaves you vulnerable. What if your channel become obstructed? What do you then? Have a backup plan. Or better, use multiple channels to begin with. You don't need to use them all to the same extent, but having them in use gives you better coverage, deeper audience engagement, and a reserve if anything goes wrong with your "main" channels.
6) Publish content on the go and just because you have to
All of your content should be produced with the aim of achieving the goals of your plan. Even if it's working towards a secondary goal that helps you achieve some part of a sub-plan which is letting you measure to see if your overall strategy is working, that content needs to be produced with a purpose in mind.
7) Only talk about your products and services
Self-promoting content has largely gone the way of the dinosaur. Brand positioning is still important of course, but a marketing campaign that only promotes a product or service gives most modern consumers very little that they want to interact with beyond the most basic level.
Brand positioning, and thus information about the type of products and services you offer, can and should be solidified via the type of content you share with the community that you're building, and the way you interact with that community.
8) Use only basic metrics like number of visits and users/likes/shares etc.
There are a lot of marketing metrics out there, and we've gotten quite a long way past things like tracking number of sites visits. Consider metrics that track your ROI, customer retention, cost per acquisition, and lead quantity as being important ones that you should be using.
9) Rely solely on rankings in Google, Bing etc.
Are you only measuring your rankings on various search engines because your entire campaign rests on your Search Engine Marketing? If so, you need to seriously consider opting into more channels immediately. Or is it that you're only interested in boosting your number of site visits?
If so, you're failing to consider every step of your customer's lifecycle with you. How do site visits relate to your overall cost per acquisition? That's a metric you should be measuring.
10) Focus on your competitors' products instead of improving your product
Basing your strategy on what does or doesn't work for your competitors is a recipe for disaster. Keeping an eye on the competition is a marketing must, but blindly following the path they walk isn't the act of an industry leader.