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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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If you want to make a business successful you should advertise for it as much as possible locally but keep it simple. The same is true for a franchise business. When you just open your franchise, how are people supposed to know you are there unless you let them know. Or if you have already been opened for some time, how will keep existing customers and attract the new customers? The key to this is advertising for your franchise locally. Yes, your franchisor may offer a great marketing plan, but you want to add to it to increase sales. Or, your franchise may not offer a marketing plan at all. Either way there are several ways you can advertise for you franchise to generate business and stay successful from the beginning!
One great way to advertise is how you present yourself. You should present yourself so that you stand out and people remember you, in a good way of course. Also represent your franchise business. If you own a surf ware franchise, you would not really be able to promote it in a suit. If you support what you sell or provide you will attract others to check it out. If someone complements you on something, how great would it be to say "Thanks, I actually sell this at...., you should come check it out". This is such a simple way to advertise your franchise.
Also, get business cards with your name and location and be personable. I remember being on a plane ride home alone. A nice man, dressed professionally was sitting next to me. He started a conversation with me about our destination and other small talk. After we had talked about why we going there for some time (I was going home and he was on business) he handed me his business card and said he was opening a new restaurant in my area and to come by and check it out. He also gave me a coupon for a free appetizer. Well, I did go to his restaurant and I told many people about it since I enjoyed the experience. This brings out two other ways you can advertise locally for your business. Offering something for free or discounted and word of mouth!
People love free stuff! So, if you can think of something to offer or a great deal you can attract people to come in. Even if it is something small like a free drink on certain days. Sometimes you have to give a little to get a lot! You still have to let people know it is there. So like the guy above did be personable and promote yourself!
The other key thing is word of mouth advertising. This can be a great way to get new customers into your franchise and it is FREE! If someone has a good experience they will share it with others and then they will want to check things out also. However, keep in mind this can be turned around quickly, so make sure you are only giving people good things to talk about.
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The perpetual question on every franchisor's mind today is how do I keep generating good quality leads for franchise sales in this economy? When the going gets tough, the franchisor needs to get creative. The great thing about franchise marketing is that it is very targeted and specific. When was the last time you saw a Super Bowl Ad marketing for new franchisees? It's just not that likely. The reason is simple, the consumer advertising we see every day is expensive because of the reach and coverage. It is worthwhile for a company to advertise for car insurance when almost anyone who sees the TV commercial could be a potential client. That is not the case when advertising for a franchisee, the franchisee is a clearly defined candidate. The demographics have hopefully been defined ahead of time, the areas of interest are predetermined, the capital requirements and all other attributes are clearly defined. Thus, the advertising is much more focused and generally speaking less expensive.
The different avenues that franchisors use for franchise marketing run the gambit. The Internet of course is the most widely used medium, about 74% of all franchise leads today come from the web. Print Media can be effective based on the readership and specificity of a publication. Direct Mailings can work in some instances as well as Email Marketing Campaigns. Tradeshows are the most showy and grand of the marketing mediums for franchise lead generation and can also be a wonderful way to market a franchise. When it comes down to it there are a lot of avenues...but how does a franchisor know where to spend their ad budget? How do they determine where they will get the most "bang for their buck"? There are several keys that my firm has lived by when it comes to franchise marketing, if these key issues are clearly and completely defined and addressed, the franchise marketing process can be a lot of fun and generate great leads. If these key points are ignored or only briefly addressed, the franchise marketing process can drive a franchisor mad!
1. Define your Buyer. Have you ever heard the phrase, "Ready, Fire, Aim!" It sounds funny, that's because it doesn't make sense! The first goal of the franchise marketing effort should be to clearly define the buyer. I don't mean "salesperson with a desire to succeed".....I mean, "Female, ages 28-37, Midwest and Southeastern US, Household income between $75k-100k, work experience with kitchen products, married, preferably with children." We want specifics, down to every last detail. Once we completely figure out who this franchisee is, then we can more effectively plan our marketing.
2. Establish franchise sales goals. Clearly identify the marketing approach. Start first with how many franchises you plan on selling into the system within the next 6 months and year. Don't plan much further than that, because beyond that point you will most likely have to redo this plan based on then current circumstances. Once we have the goals set, we then can back out of that equation. Typically we are looking at around 1000 qualified leads for every 50-100 meetings with prospective franchisees. From those meetings the closing percentage is typically around 5%. So if we determine that we would like 5 franchises to open during the first 12 months of rolling out the franchise, we need to plan on generating 1000 leads during those first 12 months. The beauty of franchise marketing is that it is very measurable and much easier to track then consumer marketing...we can actually tell how effective it is!
3. Determine the advertising mediums. Different buyers can be reached via different advertising avenues. In some franchises all of the marketing can be done over the Internet, in others the marketing has to be done through direct mailers to specified candidates....like doctors in the case of a rapid care facility. Outline the pros and cons of each medium and establish the most effective based on the cost. This is where the importance of the defined franchise buyer comes through.
4. Establish the Budget. The average cost per lead on the Internet is around $30, the average cost from a tradeshow can be as much as $200 when factoring in travel, time, booth set up and other costs. So take into account some kind of an average cost based on the advertising venues you have determined will be most effective at reaching the target audience. For those thousand leads you may need $10,000 in advertising dollars for that first year to hit the 5 franchises sold.
5. Create the Collateral materials. A Franchise is a big investment for most franchisees, in fact for many of the buyers it is literally everything they have. The franchise offering should look extremely professional and really has to be buttoned up. This means that the brochure should be top quality, there should be a sales video to present to the buyer what the business entails and helps create excitement in the franchise. Pamphlets and handouts should be put together. All of this built around creating value in the business offering, not the product or service that the business offers. The overall theme should be "Mr. or Mrs. Franchisee, you can make a great living doing this, and have fun while you're at it." Franchise buyers fall in love with franchise concepts because they envision themselves running a business doing what the franchisor does. The collateral materials should be the vehicle that sparks that interest in the franchisee's mind.
6. Put together a comprehensive application form. There should be two forms in the end...one that the franchisee fills out initially to give the franchisor initial information from which the franchisor can make a decision if they want to follow up with the prospect any further. This should be basic information that the franchisor should know up front as soon as possible in the sales process, like how much capital do you have to invest! The second form will go into much more detail and would be sent with the brochure and information packet. This form should go into work history and personal background, so that the franchisor can really get to know who this prospect is and what they are all about.
7. Execution. Franchise marketing is like all advertising and marketing, it isn't a science, although it is much closer to one than consumer marketing, it still varies a great deal in its effectiveness and results. Some times, just when things are getting to the point where a franchisor is thinking they should throw in the towel and call it quits is when they really should do some MORE advertising! It takes consistency. The franchise buyers can be fickle, lots of time it has nothing to do with the franchise offering or the marketing, but rather with the franchisees life and circumstances. They do come back and look again, we want to be there when that prospect makes the buying decision.
8. Excellent Follow Up. Great franchisors have wonderful salesmanship in the sales process. Leads should be followed up with immediately upon contact. Phone calls are important and there should be high frequency between calls until a contact is made. The franchise sales process isn't rocket science, it just takes hard work and good planning.
How to Franchise - Marketing a Franchise Successfully
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