Developing an Effective Franchise Marketing Plan

01/04/2018 15:00 | Start a business

How to develop an effective franchise marketing plan

Whether you’re investing in a new franchise or looking for new ways to reach out to customers in your current franchise model, here are seven tips on how to develop an effective franchise marketing plan:

1 – Make your plan SMART

Use the SMART criteria: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed, when you prepare a marketing plan. These criteria should also be used for every franchise business plan, as they will help you set specific goals and objectives which can be easily evaluated and revised if necessary.

So, to start with, clarify the specific goals of your marketing campaign so you understand what goal you want to reach, why you want to achieve it, who’ll be responsible for implementing it, and what resources you'll need. Then you'll need to measure your marketing campaign to determine how much everything will cost and what return on investment you need to make.

Next, figure out what you can achieve with the people, resources and budget you have available. For example, you could determine how many people and how much money will be required to manage your online communications to help you improve your website’s conversion rate by a specified percentage. Carefully consider whether the campaign will meet your business objectives in the current economic climate, then make a deadline for your marketing plan by determining how long it will realistically take to reach each milestone.

2 – Create a digital marketing strategy

Having an effective digital marketing strategy is essential for attracting customers online, whatever your franchise model. Therefore, you need to make sure all your online marketing communications, from the content on your website to your social media postings, achieve the best response rates. A strong social media presence can help you boost your visibility in your local area and get more people talking about you. For example, a fitness franchise could use its own dedicated hashtag on sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to increase its brand awareness, attract followers and build an online community.

3 – Distribute flyers/leaflets

Depending on your brand, going out and meeting local people may be just as important as having a robust online presence. Therefore, start distributing flyers/leaflets in your territory so local people can discover who you are and what your franchise model is. For example, if your franchise is in a busy commuter suburb, find a busy spot like the entrance to a railway station or a supermarket. Tell people who you are, what you’re offering and how they can benefit from your brand.

Research from the UK's Direct Marketing Association has revealed that 45% of consumers it surveyed keep leaflets in their kitchen drawer or on a pinboard. While the response rate was only found to be about 1%, this could still make a big difference when you do the maths. If you distribute 100 leaflets/flyers a week, that would equal one new customer a week, which would rise to over 100 new customers in 2 years.

Leaflets/flyers are very inexpensive to produce, so they could help you achieve a higher return on your franchise investment over time.

4 – Create incentives for your customers to recommend you to others

Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. If your customers are happy with your services, they’ll be more likely to recommend it to their friends, family and colleagues. However, sometimes people need a gentle ‘push’ or something that will motivate them to recommend you to others. For example, a fitness franchise with a monthly membership model could offer its members a small discount on their monthly fee each time they refer someone to the brand (as long as that person signs up).

5 – Give your customers valuable information

Post a blog regularly and talk about a relevant topic that your customers are likely to engage with, depending on your franchise model. For example, a franchise specialising in home cleaning services could write about the benefits of a clean home and how it can improve your quality of life. An accountancy franchise could offer advice on how business can work out their expenses and why they can save time by hiring an accountant.

Posting good quality, insightful content that people can relate to will help you position your brand as an authoritative source of information in your industry. This will help you build trust and establish long-term customer relationships as you attract more traffic to your website.

6 – Maximise your budget

Delivering a successful marketing campaign and franchise business plan is not just about staying within your budget; it’s also about making your money go further and putting your resources to the best use. For example, consider a gym or restaurant paying a professional videographer to create a 4K video of their new business. This might seem worthwhile if you post this video content on your website and it impresses your visitors. However, if you don't post the video on social media so you can get many more views and likes, the return on investment may be much lower, as fewer people will be engaging with your content and visiting your website.

7 – Maximise your SEO

To enable more people to find you online, your business needs to achieve a good search engine ranking for key search terms, a process known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). For example, a home refurbishment franchise in London might want to rank highly for search terms like ‘London home refurbishment’ or ‘refurbishing in London’, as well as more specific search terms like ‘kitchen refurbishment in London’ or ‘London bathroom refurbishment’.

Pick keywords that have a high volume of search requests, although look at how many other brands are using the same keywords to determine how much competition there is. Make sure you use your keywords or key phrases organically throughout your content and add internal hyperlinks to encourage your readers to stay on your website for as long as possible, as Google rewards this. It's also important to make sure your text is formatted correctly and includes an appropriate title and sub-headers, so it will be easier for Google to identify what your content is.

So, whether you’re considering a new franchise investment or looking for new ways to improve your current marketing campaign, hopefully, you'll find all the above advice useful.

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