Marketing a national franchise at the local level brings a unique set of complexities. National franchise marketing managers want to maintain a consistent brand experience across their franchise network while empowering local franchise owners to optimize marketing efforts for local audiences.
But balancing brand consistency while still allowing local businesses to play to their strengths in a given community can be tricky. Software tools and support from marketing experts are solutions available to franchise marketers. In addition, centralized franchise funds can be a great strength if wielded properly.
The following five tips showcase best practices for franchise marketing managers to ensure a consistent brand across their franchise network in a way that fosters growth for each local franchisee.
- Align Marketing With Local Sales – Make sure that the outreach you and your franchisees are doing is bringing customers through the door. Review 2014 efforts to see when and where sales spiked. What marketing efforts led to the increase? Replicating success and supporting sales at the local level is the best way to get franchisees to buy into the program you’re coordinating.
- Embrace Franchisee Feedback – Through formal and informal processes, gather feedback from your franchise owners about what’s working and what isn’t for their local marketing programs. A virtual suggestion box, hotline and regularly scheduled input sessions are all ways that a franchisor can keep his/her ear to the ground. Your marketing programs will be better and your franchisees will appreciate being heard.
- Manage Centralized Funds Fairly – Use of franchise funds are a hot-button issue for franchisees with good reason: shared marketing funds directly impact a franchisee’s top and bottom lines. Make sure money is offered in a way that supports both the creation and placement of advertisements. Creative concepts should do more than just promote the franchise brand, so include options for franchisees that will resonate locally and bring customers into the store. Lastly, be clear about what percentage of revenue you’re collecting so there is never confusion.
- Let Franchisees Use Their Own Messages – Brand consistency is important for a franchise, but that doesn’t mean every franchisee’s marketing plan needs to be a carbon copy. Use template creative materials so franchise owners can market to their specific local audience more personally. Build flexibility into media plans as well, since each franchisee has his/her own audience to reach, and the same media platforms won’t always be successful across the board.
- Educate Your Franchise Owners – This tip cannot be overstated. Especially in today’s shifting media landscape, local franchise owners need help understanding how to effectively spend their marketing dollars. Specifically, education about digital channels can help franchise owners reach audiences online. In addition, social media tools can give local business owners the ability to use preapproved content with a local spin, helping franchise owners extend the sense of community they build in real life on to popular social networks.
Are you planning franchise marketing for 2015? What step would you add?