Megan Redzia - 06/19/2014
With new franchise concepts established daily, communicating your brand’s unique differentiators is essential to grab consumer mindshare. This distinction should be identified through extensive research from which key brand messages will be born.
Brand messaging should resonate with consumers and quickly tell them why the brand is for them and that they must frequent the franchise locations often. For example, restaurant chains need to convey taste health, convenience, and affordability. Day care franchisors must instill confidence that the locations are safe, friendly, and have a strong curriculum.
Once you have defined your brand messages, it’s time to develop a plan to market them. An effective franchise marketing plan will achieve three main goals: recruit franchisees, build brand equity and increase local franchise awareness. Let’s take a look at each of these a little more in depth.
1. Franchisee Recruitment
Marketing and messaging to potential franchise owners is essential for franchisor growth. There is fierce competition, especially in the fast casual segment, to recruit the right kind of franchisee; the type that can convey the brand essence rather than hurt it.
Recruiting the best franchisees requires two key messages. The first is the brand promise, which attracts franchisees to buy into the concept as well as draws customers into locations. The second is marketing the successful business operations and strong earning potential of the franchise. Much of the latter message is accomplished by the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD).
While the FDD is a big step, it is hardly the only one that leads down the path of success. Preparing effective franchisee recruitment tools and implementing the proper program can help create interest well before an FDD is ever presented.
A good example is how our public relations campaign for a fast casual restaurant chain secured an interview for the CEO on Fox Business. After successful media training that emphasized the growth of the restaurant chain across the country and the business model, which was somewhat unique for the fast casual market, the corporate office received multiple calls from qualified franchisees.
2. Brand Building
Taking the brand messages defined by initial research to the consumers is what drives sales at all franchise restaurants, stores, daycare center, et al. That is why corporate management must have a strong marketing communications program that builds the brand through:
- Direct Marketing
- Grass Roots
- Public Relations
- Social Media
All of these tools need to be conducted on an ongoing basis and be part of the corporate “glocalization.” Adopting a “glocal” strategy allows franchisees to reinforce brand recognition in a personalized local manner, yet it still gives control to the franchisor and ensures the brand promises are maintained.
3. Local Awareness
Each franchisee wants to establish awareness in the target area so the location can grow. A steady stream of local marketing that complements the national marketing program initiated by the franchisor will amortize the marketing budget and make it highly efficient. In most instances, this should be done by using pre-approved corporate marketing tools that adhere to brand guidelines and can easily be localized.
Regular communication with each franchisee is necessary, as well. Establishing a marketing team that acts as a liaison between the franchisor and the franchisee can help bring consistency to the efforts, both in terms of frequency and messaging. That liaison can have a seat on the Franchise Advisory Council (FAC), providing valuable input and recommendations.
The liaison can also maintain regular communication with the individual franchisees. This brings a level of confidence to the franchise owner and helps them implement a localized program that maintains integrity. Best of all, the franchisor can cost-effectively outsource this activity, allowing corporate marketing staff to focus on the “big picture.” This external team of marketing experts can grow along with the brand at a fraction of the cost of hiring and training the in-house marketing staff.
Centralized marketing programs are one of the most attractive cornerstones of the franchise business and are a crucial part of a franchise’s success. To learn more about how to develop a marketing plan that grows sales at the local level while maintaining message consistency system-wide, download my free eGuide. For questions on developing a franchise marketing plan, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.