Marketing for franchises is deceptively complicated. A brand must present one unified mission to its customers but also communicate it to communities through far-flung franchisees. It’s a big task, which is why many franchises use marketing agencies that specialize in franchising. “The more we know about a brand, how that brand makes money, and how its franchisees make money, the better we can build campaigns for it,” says Dawn Kane, CEO of one such firm, the Minneapolis-based Hot Dish Advertising. Here are the four marketing moves she says every franchise should make.
1. One campaign to serve them all.
Franchisees are often tempted to launch local marketing campaigns to connect with their specific communities, but more often than not, Kane says, that’s an unnecessary use of time and money. “When you really dig into the demographics and psychographics of a brand’s customer, the consumer profile tends to be the same, whether they’re in Ohio or Florida or California. Same income, same media consumption — if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s a duck.” A successful media campaign should help franchisees reach their customer no matter the market.
2. Meet your audience where they are.
To keep social media engagement consistent across markets, franchisors often implement rules and regulations for local franchisees to follow. “It’s kind of like a parent/child type of agreement that allows individual franchisees to manage their own accounts,” says Kane. And it’s important for both franchisors and franchisees to know where to find their customers in the digital world. “Facebook used to be great for a lot of brands, but now the demographic has become much older,” Kane says. “There’s a lot more engagement on Instagram, Snapchat and even Pinterest, depending on your brand, concept and customer.”
3. Find the best franchisees…
Marketing isn’t just about reaching consumers. Hot Dish and other agencies like it also help franchise companies reach and recruit potential franchisees. “Why would someone invest in your brand?” Kane asks. “Getting someone to invest their life savings with you is very different from getting someone to buy a taco from you.” It’s of course important that prospects have the financial capacity to invest, but it’s also about making sure they have an emotional connection to and understanding of the brand. “Most brands talk about what they do and how, but not the why,” Kane says. “Communicate that vision to reach your target audience of potential franchisees.”
4. …and give them the right tools.
Marketing isn’t just about what to say; it’s also about how to say it. Franchisors shouldn’t assume their franchisees know how to do this. “A franchise might attract someone out of corporate America who is great at management but needs additional support on operations or marketing.” A franchise company should provide franchisees with the training, education and explanations to set them up for success. “Make it super simple to execute the plan and vision,” she says. That way, everyone truly is speaking with the same voice.