Franchise marketing is a challenge.
Entrepreneurs build a successful brand, formulate a replicable business model, and then expect franchisees to follow the rules and maintain the brand’s reputation.
But every franchise is different, and each franchisee has their own ideas, so how do franchisors maintain brand consistency across all locations?
In this guide, we’ll examine what franchise marketing is, why franchisors and franchisees need it, and how you can design and implement a successful franchise marketing campaign.
But before we start, here are some quick definitions to set the scene:
Franchise: a franchise is a type of license that grants a franchisee access to a franchisor’s proprietary business knowledge, processes, and trademarks, to sell a product or service under its brand name. In exchange for acquiring a franchise, the franchisee usually pays the franchisor an initial start-up fee plus annual licensing fees.
Franchisor: a franchisor sells the right to open stores and sell products or services using its brand, expertise, and intellectual property. Becoming a franchisor is especially viable for already-successful companies. All franchisors assume the risk that a franchise could fail.
Franchisee: A franchisee is a small business owner who operates a franchise. The franchisee receives continuous guidance and support from the franchisor. The franchisee markets and sells the same brand and upholds the same standards as the original business.
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What is Franchise Marketing?
Franchise marketing refers to any activity that a franchise performs to grow its business, including social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, SEO, pay-per-click advertising, trade shows, and more.
There are two types of franchise marketing:
- Operational franchise marketing is any marketing activity that both a franchisor and franchisees do to acquire and retain customers.
- Franchise development marketing is any marketing activity that a franchisor does to acquire and retain more franchisees in new locations.
In this guide, we’ll focus on operational franchise marketing, rather than franchise development marketing.
Why Franchise Marketing is Key for the Success of Franchisor and Franchisee
For franchise marketing to work, the franchisor and franchisee have to work in tandem.
On the one hand, franchisors have to create a consistent brand and business model that can be replicated across different locations owned by independent entrepreneurs. On the other hand, franchisees have to maintain the brand reputation and adapt to local conditions to succeed.
If both parties can fulfill these requirements, and follow the franchise marketing blueprint, they both have a high chance of succeeding.
Examples of Successful Franchise Marketing Campaigns
Some of the most successful franchises in the US include restaurant and food chains like Subway, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Burger King, and Dunkin’ Donuts. Other types of successful franchise businesses include hotels, resorts, auto rentals, shipping companies, gyms, and cleaning companies.
Here are three examples of successful franchise marketing campaigns from three different sectors:
Car care firm AAMCO gets the balance between national and local franchise marketing just right.
It produces a ton of content that’s suitable for all locations, like its automotive tips. But when it comes to promotions and coupons, they ask customers to check their local (franchised) auto repair center:
For example, here’s the AAMCO Lancaster (PA) repair center:
Holiday Inn encourages franchisees to add local content in its social media campaigns. For example, on Facebook, Holiday Inn Lancaster (UK) shares places to see and things to do around the hotel:
Plus, they share news of local events or join national events like #NationalIceCreamDay:
Both of these local franchise marketing strategies help to create a deeper, more relevant relationship with customers.
Insurance brand Allstate launched their #ResolutionsAreMayhem campaign during the College Football National Championship game. Allstate encouraged viewers to prepare for disaster through a series of viral videos featuring their Mayhem character. They also used the hashtag #ResolutionsAreMayhem on social media with content focused on making resolutions, struggling but keeping resolutions, and breaking resolutions.
How to Design and Implement a Successful Franchise Marketing Campaign
Here are the necessary steps to design and implement a successful franchise marketing campaign:
- Set your campaign goals and budget
- Establish brand consistency
- Plan and implement the campaign
- Review and assess the results
Step 1. Set your campaign goals
A franchise marketing campaign has to satisfy both franchisor and franchisee. Most franchisees will be paying for marketing in their license fee, so they’ll expect to see some ROI for each campaign.
At this stage, it’s worth considering how you’re going to track the campaign goals and differentiate results for each franchise location.
For example, you could consider adding UTM parameters to track the location in the campaign. This would allow franchisors to provide campaign data to franchisees showing them where their marketing fees have been used and how it affected their bottom line.
Step 2. Establish brand consistency
Brand consistency is essential for franchise marketing to work. Consumers should have the same experience of the brand regardless of location.
For example, you should be able to walk into a Starbucks cafe in the US and the UK and experience the same brand colors and similar menu items, right down to how your beverage is prepared and served.
Franchisors need to own and coordinate this stage with a marketing brand handbook that sets out expectations for each branch. The manual should keep individual franchisees “on brand” and prevent them from “doing their own thing” in their location.
Step 3. Plan and implement the campaign
Next, you’ll need to decide which marketing channels to use at a global and local level for your campaign:
- SEO content
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
Let’s take a look at some channels from a franchisor and franchisee perspective.
Most SEO advice focuses on global, or general techniques. But franchise marketing needs both international and local SEO if it’s to succeed.
Franchisors can use global SEO to increase the visibility and brand identity of the franchise in search results.
Franchisees can use local SEO to increase the visibility of individual franchises in search results, location pages, and online maps. It’s a vital part of local marketing:
- 46% of all searches in Google have “local intent.”
- “Near me” mobile searches have grown over 500% over the last two years.
- 29% of all Google SERPs contain a local (map) pack in the results.
Franchisors will have to decide how they’re going to structure their website. Will they have one website with local franchisee pages, or will they have one corporate HQ site and then allow franchisees to build individual sites?
For instance, School of Rock keeps all their content on one site.
At the global level, it provides resources that are relevant to any location, such as guides for guitar, vocals, keyboards, and drums:
At the local level, each location has its own subdirectory. For example, Scottsdale, Arizona, is located here: https://locations.schoolofrock.com/scottsdale.
However, if you search for “school of rock Arizona” in Google, you’ll see the local (map) pack for the three Arizona school locations:
For each franchise location, you get relevant information, including:
- Business name, address, phone number (NAP)
- Opening hours
- Services on offer
- Website link
School of Rock takes this one step further with a Google My Business (GMB) listing for each school. For example, the Scottsdale listing:
Finally, they gather and display reviews and testimonials to boost each franchise:
Social media marketing
Social media is a popular marketing channel for franchises. The main difficulty is to ensure each franchisee follows brand and campaign guidelines. One way to overcome this is by franchisors developing a global template that franchisees then adapt to their location.
For example, using Loomly, the franchisor could create one central calendar with pre-approved, branded content, and give access to all franchisees. From there, they could pull content into their local calendars to publish and promote in their location, without any risk to brand consistency.
You might also want to consider using Facebook Locations Pages, which are ideal for franchises like shops, restaurants, dealerships, salons, and non-profits in multiple locations. It’s a win-win for everyone:
- Customers can find local businesses in their area.
- Franchisors can manage all franchisee details in one convenient place.
- Franchisees can offer localized and specific content, including Ads.
Here’s how Holiday Inn uses “stores” for each hotel location:
Marketers know that email is still one of the most effective channels to reach leads and customers. But how do franchisors control their brand?
The answer is segmentation – building and maintaining separate contact lists for individual locations and the global brand, which allows franchisees to target their leads and customers with relevant messaging.
Franchisors will also want to consider an email marketing service where they can share creative assets, such as logos, images, templates, and campaigns, with each franchisee to maintain brand consistency and also allow local messaging.
Pay-per-click advertising is an excellent way to promote your brand, but it needs managing carefully.
Franchisors can use display and search ads to promote the brand name and offerings. Maintaining and strengthening the brand helps you and your franchisees attract leads and sales.
Franchisees can customize ads to make the messaging relevant to their location and local audience. For example, you could use the location name (region/city/town) in the keywords to differentiate it from a national or international head office.
Step 4. Review and assess the results
At the end of your campaign, you should review and assess the results. If you’ve implemented the right tracking and analytics in your marketing, you should be able to identify:
- How many leads came from each franchise location.
- How visitors behave when they reach a location-specific page.
- What you need to improve at a global and local level for the next campaign.
Franchise Marketing in a Nutshell
Franchise marketing requires a different approach to traditional marketing. It’s a team game involving franchisors and franchisees where everyone needs to pull in the same direction to maintain the brand’s reputation.
If both parties can fulfill these requirements, and follow the franchise marketing blueprint, then they can both profit from a consistent brand.