How to market your franchise

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Guide to franchise marketing

Marketing isn’t always the easiest thing to get right, but effective advertising is essential if a business is to grow and expand. Consequently, franchisees need to develop their skills and utilise all the resources at their disposal if they're to succeed. Here, we take a look at eight factors all franchisees need to consider if they’re going to get their marketing right.

How to market your franchise

1. Trademarks

One of the critical factors in any franchise agreement is the use of trademarks and a business’ brand image and name. In many cases, the use of an established brand name is what franchisees are paying for, so it's vital that steps are taken to protect the franchise's trademarks properly. Many of these safeguards are established in the franchise agreement, and most franchisors will set out a stringent set of guidelines concerning how they can be used.

Use trademarks correctly

Because these trademarks are so well protected, franchisees need to ensure that they use them correctly in their marketing materials. Violation of the terms laid out in the franchise agreement can cause harm to the brand's reputation and may endanger the franchise unit. Consequently, franchisees should try to use the marketing materials provided by the franchisor or contact them for guidance on how to incorporate the trademarks into their marketing.

2. Competition marketing

Most franchise brands will be well aware of what their competition is doing, particularly when it comes to marketing. Looking at the ways in which close competitors are marketing their business, products and services can inspire and inform your franchise as to which techniques work and which don’t have the intended effect. As you want to distinguish yourself from the competition through your use of marketing materials, it’s necessary to consider what the competition is doing and what they’re trying to achieve.

Targeting specific customer groups

Looking at how the best franchises target specific customer groups will also help inform your marketing campaigns. Customer targeting is vital to successful advertising and businesses need to know precisely who they're trying to win over when they create a leaflet, poster or blog post. Though a broad advert may appeal to a wider audience, it’s far less effective at converting that audience into paying customers.

3. Franchisor responsibilities

In most cases, franchisees will make a regular contribution to the franchise’s national marketing budget. This is used to pay for advertisements in a variety of mediums, including television, print, radio and online forums too. Typically, this will result in well-crafted and extensive marketing campaigns that aim to increase public awareness of the entire franchise and develop the brand.

In cases where a regular marketing contribution is not used to fund advertising, many franchisors will provide a set of guidelines detailing how franchisees should market themselves. This will be supported by extensive training programmes to ensure that money is being well spent.

4. Franchisee responsibilities

For the most part, franchisees are responsible for the local marketing that drives custom to their specific franchise unit. There are often dedicated training seminars and workshops for this, and the franchisor will usually retain some control over how a franchisee markets themselves. This is to ensure that resources are being used wisely and that the brand’s trademarks are not being used in inappropriate or damaging ways.

Launch day

Franchisees will also be responsible for any promotional grand opening arrangements. This means that much of the responsibility for drumming up early custom is placed squarely on the shoulders of the franchisee. Some franchises will also require new franchisees to submit a marketing plan that covers precisely how they expect to spend their budget over the following year. This allows them to offer advice and support to the franchisee while enabling each unit some freedom to decide how best to advertise their products or services.

5. Choice of media

In modern marketing campaigns, the type of media you choose to advertise with can have enormous ramifications. Different demographics are exposed to very different forms of media, so you need to make sure that you understand your target audience and know where they consume most of their information. For instance, more traditional media forms, such as print and radio, are likely to be far more successful with older customers, while internet content is likely to reach a younger audience.

Balance cost and benefits

You’ll also need to consider the cost and benefits of each type of media. While SEO and blog-based advertising may be far cheaper than other forms, it may also lack the impact of an effective TV spot. It's often the case that the most profitable franchise is the one that’s developed a painstakingly detailed advertising strategy that reflects its target audience and knows how to reach it.

6. Loyalty schemes

Finally, it’s also important to consider other forms of marketing, besides those used in traditional advertising campaigns. One type of alternative marketing is the use of loyalty cards or reward schemes. Not only do they incentivise customer loyalty, but they also bring in new customers who are looking for ways to save money in the future. These type of schemes also encourage word-of-mouth referrals. A customer is far more likely to recommend a service or product if they believe that they’re getting a good deal, and loyalty cards are a great way to develop this perception.

7. Build customer loyalty

It’s just as important to ensure existing customers stay loyal to your business as it is to entice new ones. Therefore, you should ensure you nurture your customers by providing outstanding customer service and standing out from the competition.

Regular communication

One way to build customer loyalty is to communicate regularly with them through social media and online. This could be in the form of regular blogs on your website or conversing about local events and replying to customer enquires on Facebook.

Deliver promises

It’s also important to deliver on your promises and provide after-sale follow-up, for instance sending out an email asking customers to rate their experience.

Listen to customers

You want to give customers the impression that you are going the extra mile for them and exceed their expectations. One way this could be achieved is by actually using feedback and complaints to improve services and make changes to how operations are run.

Customer service training

To ensure customers have a positive experience with your franchise, train staff in customer service so that they can respond helpfully and professionally should issues arise.

8. Keep an eye on marketing activities

Once you’ve developed your marketing strategy, you will want to monitor and review whether activities are achieving your desired outcome. Crucially, are they increasing sales? You could review your marketing plan every three months, or even more frequently in the early stages. Once you’ve been up and running for longer, you can assess the marketing activities when a new competitor comes into play, any issues that arise that affect the entire industry and when you launch a new product or service. There are many ways to monitor and review marketing activities. For instance, you could use free analytic tools to assess how effective your social media campaigns are.

Marketing media choices

On top of the media choices already mentioned, there is an abundance of other ways to promote your business, including direct mail, e.g. flyers and brochures, social media platforms e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube and Google+, and outdoor adverts, e.g. billboards and posters.

Using social media

We live in a world that is constantly adapting and evolving. One of the most significant ways this occurs is through technological advancements, including social media and how we use it.

Visual content is something that is rapidly growing in popularity. Therefore, businesses can capitalise on this by incorporating videos into their marketing strategies. This could be uploaded onto social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram with the ‘live’ and ‘story’ features.

A huge 85 percent of videos are, in fact, watched without sound. Therefore, to increase the engagement of customers, you should also carefully consider the caption of the video, as well as relying on its audio.

Conclusion

Marketing is an incredibly complex issue that requires a great deal of expertise and experience if it’s to be done correctly. Fortunately, this kind of experience and expertise is what franchisees are paying their franchisors for. A good franchisor will always be on hand to help you with any advertising issues or questions you may have and will work hand in hand with their franchisees to ensure money is being well spent. Training and ongoing support play a significant role in providing franchisees with the necessary skills, but many franchisors will also simplify the process by providing materials. To advertise your business in as effective a manner as possible, it's necessary to take advantage of both of these factors.

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