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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.
Understanding Franchise Marketing
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 the business of duplicating concepts, the process of marketing and selling the model is new and unique to most. It could be compared to dating, fishing, hunting and many other catching metaphors, but from someone who has actively marketed and sold franchises for the past ten years, it comes down to a few key factors as to what separates the successful franchise marketers from the unsuccessful ones.
The first point to be aware of is that franchise sales and franchise marketing takes a budget. In 2010, I have personally been involved in 67 new franchise sale transactions...3 of those came to my clients through referrals or contacts they had prior to franchising their business. The rest of the franchise sales came through good old fashioned advertising. Yes, that's right, you do have to advertise to attract good franchise prospects. What I tell my clients in deciding what to budget for franchise marketing activities is twofold. One, budget something up front for a brochure, printed materials, a good website and other program pieces that are necessary to attract buyers. Then on a monthly timeframe, start out with a budget of $500 up to $1,500 per month for lead generation activities. Do not go into franchising without some kind of a budget for marketing the business.
The second point is take notice of in franchising is that you need to have a compelling story. I call this the unique selling proposition for a business concept. What the heck makes you different from every other business out there in the license/franchise/business opportunity world? If you can't say something to yourself in the mirror that makes you smile, you're probably going to have a hard time getting other people to find it interesting. Develop this value proposition and nail it down before you start talking to people. If there is one thing that I know about franchise buyer leads, it is that they have a short attention span....get it quick or you get hung up on.
The third issue is that if you don't like making a lot of sales calls and "working the phones", you need to budget for a sales person to do this for you. Franchising is a sales business, don't let anyone fool you. People don't walk in the door and hand checks over, it is a contact sport and takes hundreds and hundreds of phone calls to land franchise partners. A good franchise sales person will make anywhere from 75-150 phone calls per day. In many instances, I have personally called a good prospect over 40 times just to get a meeting with them regarding the franchise opportunity. Get ready to get busy, franchising takes leg work and activity. I love activity....it's easy to monitor and 99 out of 100 times, the sales people who create the most activity are the ones who close deals. Burn up the phones and you will see revenue in your franchise system.
The fourth note is that it's okay to be "out there". It is important to remember that you are probably one of several franchise opportunities that any buyer is considering. If you do not leave an impression on that buyer, they will very likely forget about you. Be aggressive and tell them what you are good at and how it will benefit them! The thing I love about franchising is that it helps people become entrepreneurs, which is the most empowering thing in the world. The thing I hate about franchising, is that the people you are dealing with are not sophisticated and have not been empowered yet! So it is up to you as a franchise sales person....or franchise consultant, to lead that person through the decision making process. My shortest sales times with franchise buyers have happened in cases where my sales pitch turned into a counseling session. I found out more about the buyers on the first call, I made compelling comments about things other than what I was selling and I really personalized the relationship. The next time you call someone, try this and see what kinds of results you get!
Franchising is an effective and powerful way to grow a business. The key with any new business venture is to approach the idea and business strategy with as much information as possible. So when you approach the idea of how to franchise my business, be ready to market and sell you franchise when you get into this business and more often than not you will develop revenue streams from your new business venture.
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