Defining marketing strategies for any brand is essential, but even more so for franchise networks in their early stages. This is the formative period as you initially define who you are as a network how the brand gets perceived. But, for headquarters, what are the best practices to follow during this period to ensure continuity of the brand voice and message throughout your network? Of course, you want some semblance of control over what’s being broadcasted by each franchise owner. However, extending some freedom to your franchise owners to be creative, to be themselves, also has its benefits. These four marketing strategies for emerging franchise networks are proven best practices that can guide towards success.
Teaching Franchise Owners to Create For Themselves
There is often a hesitancy to loosen conformity restrictions when a company is young. Having a uniform code reflects the appearance of a well-organized, professional operation. In some circumstances, this can be beneficial. But this is not always the case.
Franchise owners are individual, local small business owners. Encouraging them to establish their own identity within the context of their own communities will be a major aspect of their (and therefore the organization’s) sustainability. With this in mind, we recommend that you motivate the franchise owners to explore (limited) creative avenues of using social media and their online presence. Provide consistent guidelines to make sure no one veers off-brand, while still allowing their personality to shine through.
Often times, young franchise networks are hesitant to give their franchise owners too much freedom. But our experience shows that a certain degree of creative freedom benefits both the franchise owner and the brand. The opposite is also true: too tight of a grip results in a hard time creating content that is essential for a local business to thrive. That’s why we listed this as the first of the four marketing strategies for emerging franchise networks.
Giving Franchise Owners Options
Not every franchise owner will have the same needs or capabilities when it comes to marketing. Some might have limited experience or comfort handling aspects of business outside of their respective fields. Others might just not see the value. Similarly, some franchise owners are just starting up and have to allocate their time and resources towards other aspects of their business first.
Provide regular marketing materials for them, with support from Headquarters. This can include giving them access to branded email templates and tools for them to use themselves. Or propagating social media posts, blogs, and scheduled events on their behalf. Franchise owners will benefit from all of these assets automatically, but can also be encouraged to build upon them themselves.
Encouraging Franchise Owners to Join Local Groups
A powerful tool for many industries is business-to-business and word-of-mouth referrals. Referrals are one of the most trusted sources potential customers use to determine who they should give their consumer (or company) dollars to. And in local communities, building relationships with other businesses can be a catalyst for drawing in more referrals. We like to call this rule “Don’t forget to schmooze.”
Direct franchise owners to join their local Chamber of Commerce. These reputable organizations’ primary goal is to further the business interests within their community. Chambers host drives, networking, and charity events. They are also active in lobbying county and state governments on behalf of their members. By joining these groups, franchise owners gain access to many unique marketing opportunities and increased credibility within the community. Moreover, they can easily connect to a multitude of potential business partners in their area.
Joining other organizations that have a strong focus on networking, like BNI and similar referral groups, or on personal development, like Toastmasters, are great opportunities for connecting with other business owners.
Recommending Approved Vendors
There are many scenarios where successful and driven franchise owners (or those who aspire to be) see the value of marketing and prefer having a more individualized marketing strategy. But some choose not to, or for some reason cannot do it themselves. In this instance, corporate can (and should) refer them to corporate-approved vendors. Working with approved vendors is the most effective way to assure franchise owners receive quality services. This is second only to managing this yourself (which, you probably already know, is not sustainable). Approved vendors understand the nature of your industry and know the ins and outs of your business and structure. They adhere to brand standards and truly become a partner in every way. In the best case, the approved vendors become an extension of your own team.
Bright Pink Agency is an experienced franchise marketing partner. We build solid relationships and work closely with both the franchisor’s marketing department and with franchise owners throughout the country. We have identified and know well each of the moving parts that must work together for any franchise network’s marketing systems to work as an efficient machine.
The intent starts at the top with a well-planned corporate perspective. It then carries throughout all locations, promoting the same messaging and company culture for clients, visitors, and potential franchise owners. We then also support individual franchise owners to provide consistent and relevant, on-brand marketing content, localization services, and to build a strong and effective social media presence.
More Marketing Strategies for Emerging Franchise Networks
Your franchise network is unique, which makes it impossible to find a comprehensive list of canned strategies. Which is why your best course of action is, after doing your research, contacting a marketing agency specialized in franchise marketing. Let’s talk!