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Running a successful franchise in multiple locations and optimizing each one for maximum engagement and recognition in their local markets is definitely one of the most difficult tasks for a business leaders. Yes, you should trust your franchisees to do a stellar job and manage their branches in an efficient and effective way, but only if you have done your part of the job beforehand.
So, what is your job? As a franchisor, your job is to create a strong overarching marketing strategy that will help every branch maximize its marketing potential while ensuring brand consistency every step of the way. To that end, here are the most effective ways you can create a winning franchise marketing strategy.
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There are many benefits to starting a franchise as opposed to your own independent business. Some of those benefits include the proven business model, name recognition, and training and support that you will get from the franchiser. Another big benefit is that the franchiser will likely handle most of the marketing efforts on your behalf, though they usually require their franchisees to pay a fee for those marketing campaigns.
Since a good, well-funded marketing campaign is a benefit you should enjoy when choosing a franchise over an independent small business, you should consider what kind of marketing plan the franchiser has if you are thinking about buying a franchise, in addition to all of the other important costs and benefits specific to the individual franchise, like training, profits, and management. If you are strongly considering a specific franchise, and they either do not have a marketing plan or you don't like or agree with their marketing plan, you may want to look elsewhere - lack of good marketing could be a deal breaker, since it can be vital to your success as a franchisee.
When you are examining the franchiser's marketing plan, pay attention to what it offers and how much it will cost you in fees to the franchiser. A good marketing plan should cover things like print advertisements, TV advertisements, and direct mail to current and possible customers. Look for marketing in areas that you think will reach your target customers, and as many of them as possible, not just a few people. Make sure that you feel comfortable that the marketing plan the franchiser offers will be effective in helping you draw in customers, because it can strongly affect your chances of success as a franchisee, and, if you are paying fees to support this marketing plan, you want to make sure that it is better than you could do if you were paying for and managing your own marketing outreach.
Finally, you should find out if the franchiser is proactive and open to new ideas from franchisees in terms of marketing efforts. If you are completely happy with the plan the franchiser has set forth for marketing, this may not seem necessary, but a good franchiser should always be open to new ideas for future marketing, when things may change and there may be better ways to reach customers in the future, rather than recycling stale marketing plans 10 years from now.
The marketing plan of a franchiser is not always the most obvious place to look for problems when you are picking a franchise. However, you should place as much importance on examining a franchisor's marketing plan, and attitude towards marketing in general, as on things like profits and costs. Good or bad marketing can make or break you as a franchisee, and a franchiser who is responsive to your needs and suggestions with regards to marketing will be much more pleasant to work with and will be more likely to create more success for both of you.
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In order to go anywhere as a franchisee, the franchisor needs to have a sturdy and effective marketing plan in place. Here are some guidelines when it comes to researching a franchisor's marketing plan:
1) Know the Basics: You should take the time to learn the basics about how franchise marketing plans work. In general, a marketing plan is a map laid out by the franchisor that dictates how business will be brought in. As a franchisee, you will contribute a set amount of money / a percentage from sales into a collective marketing plan pool controlled by the franchisor (note that other franchisees will contribute to the pool as well). Depending on your needs as a franchisee, the franchisor will dole out money from the pool that will cover such expenses as TV commercials, direct mailings to potential and existing customers, print advertisements, in-house marketing expenses and fees paid to advertising agencies for their services.
2) Know the Right Questions to Ask: To get a good idea about the durability and success of a franchise's marketing plan, ask these simple questions: Do you understand the needs and tastes of your customers? Do you know the strengths of your competitors? (If you're an active customer of the franchise you're considering buying into, these questions can be answered pretty easily).
3) Get More Information: If you are one of those potential franchisees who doesn't know much about the franchise you're thinking of buying into, you should contact the franchise and request all available public information about the marketing plan. Franchises will usually comply with this request, if only
because they see you as a prospective source of income.
4) See the TOC: You should definitely try to get a peek at the marketing support guide that existing franchisees use. Whereas a lot of this content might be too sensitive to hand out to prospective franchisees, the franchisor should be able to give you at least the table of contents, which will give you a solid overview of the blueprint used to market the brand and product.
5) Seek Out Other Franchisees: Be sure to ask other franchisees specific questions about sales, the best avenues of advertising, and what the franchisor might change about the marketing plan (if any). As you've undoubtedly deduced, you can determine a lot about your franchising potential by gauging current franchisees' levels of satisfaction with the marketing strategies dictated by the franchisor.
6) Learn whether the Franchise is Receptive to Franchisee Input: For the most part, franchisors grant their franchisees some leverage in the creation of their marketing plans. Find out how much say franchisees generally have regarding marketing plan improvements. Also, find out whether or not strategies and/or ideas they've suggested have been recognized and utilized by the franchisor - this will give you a good idea about the amount of creative breathing room you'd have in marketing plan development.
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