The UK franchise industry contributes around £15 billion to the economy; a figure which has increased by 46% over the past decade.
In the US, it’s thought that the success rate of franchises over a two-year period is about 8%, which is considerably higher than independent businesses.
Clearly, if you’re considering getting into the franchise game, you’re in for a pretty successful ride - if you get it right. If you’re flying solo (the maverick that you are), there’s a lot to be learnt about how franchises go about marketing their businesses and dominating local advertising, so read on…
In this guide, we’ll take a look at how anyone can market a franchise with the right know-how, support from the franchisor and desire to succeed. And, as you’ll discover, it’s based on good, old-fashioned common sense.
What’s the role of the franchisor?
Of course, if you’re the franchisee, you’ll understandably expect some marketing support from those above you.
The good news is that if you pick the right franchise, you’ll get just that. Sure, you’ll need to undertake the bulk of the marketing and advertising yourself, but there are some standard leg-ups you should expect from the franchisor.
Their marketing effort will typically focus on:
- global or regional advertising campaigns;
- TV and radio commercials;
- public relations; and
- direct mail campaigns.
This will ensure you have a widely established brand from which to build your own business.
But there’s still lots to do.
Establishing your online presence
It’s important to get your website built and ready for an influx of visitors. They’ll come, often largely as a result of the franchisor’s marketing effort, but that doesn’t mean you can simply sit back and watch as the floodgates open.
You may find that the franchisor has a pre-built website available for you, into which you simply plug your details, specifics and content. But, equally, you might have to start from scratch.
If it’s the latter, make sure your franchise’s logo and branding is front and centre. Remember - you’re under their watchful gaze, support, and influence, therefore it’s important not to fall into the trap of inadvertently building a franchise which doesn’t at all relate to the franchisor.
The same goes for your social media profiles. You’ll most likely want to be on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for starters, but check with the franchisor to see if there are any specific social channels you’re required to be on. And, again, they should be able to support you with imagery for each platform.
It’s also important to double-check any requirements for the way in which you express yourself online. Look for the franchisor’s guide to tone of voice for the best guidance.
Invest in local SEO
Your franchisor will focus mainly on the national (and, potentially, global) awareness of the brand. It’s your job to hone in locally. These days, this can be done with something called ‘local SEO’.
This is where you tune your website to target a specific geographic area. For instance, if your franchise is a pizzeria and you’re based in Leeds, you’ll need to include keywords such as “pizza restaurant Leeds” and “best pizza in Leeds” throughout your website.
Local SEO also demands that you accurately reference your location across the website, from your header and footer, to the contact page and, of course, your Google My Business listing. This enables Google to surface your business when people undertake searches such as, “best pizza restaurant near me”.
There’s an art to local SEO, therefore this is certainly one area in which it’s sensible to invest in the services of a professional. You may even find that your franchisor can help you in that regard.
Don’t forget to market on your premises
With such a big emphasis on digital marketing these days, it’s scarily easy to forget how important in-house marketing is.
This relates to the branding, marketing and advertising opportunities which exist throughout your venue. Once again, the franchisor might have rules for what you can and can’t do, so it’s important to follow their guidelines.
Doing so is sensible, not just for compliance reasons, but because the franchisor knows what it’s talking about. Their team will have spent considerable time working out the best on-premise marketing and branding tactics, which means a huge weight is taken off your shoulders.
This is one of the biggest benefits of heading down the franchise route; you can lean on the experience of your franchisor to ensure your venue is as tempting, captivating and capable of drawing back repeat visitors as possible.
Of course, if there is any leeway with the stuff you can do on-premise, grab it with both hands. Think about what you can do to make your venue unique while still operating within the franchisor framework. And whatever you do, remember to plaster your social media handles throughout the building; it’ll encourage customers to get involved and add that all-important social proof to your online presence.
3 local marketing ideas for franchisees
Targeting your local demographic can be done effectively with your website, as previously noted, but there are three more strategies every franchisee should use to draw in a local audience.
1. Leaflet marketing
You’ll almost definitely receive a bunch of hard copy marketing materials from your franchisor, so use them! Leaflet drops in the local area are time-consuming but totally worth it; it’s rare we receive physical post these days, and if the marketing is on point, it’ll leave an impression.
There are lots of sponsorship opportunities out there. Look for those which resonate with your culture and the personality of your franchise brand.
3. Community events
Get involved in your local community as much as you can. Look for events in the future which you can support in some way or to which you can supply your services. It’s one of the best forms of local marketing you can undertake and will raise awareness of your brand considerably.
Create a loyalty program
Your franchisor will almost definitely offer some form of pre-packaged loyalty program, so make sure you take full advantage.
If they don’t, it is one-hundred percent worth setting up your own. Good news! We’ve put together loads of resources to help you with this part of franchise marketing. Check out guide below to get you started
Beambox guide: 5 Steps to a Profitable Restaurant Loyalty Program
Final tip: stay close to your franchisor
It’s worth repeating the main benefit of running a franchise business: you have a franchisor from which to learn and be inspired.
They put an awful lot of work into their own marketing, and while they should certainly be proactive in keeping you updated on their latest advice, guidance and brand requirements, it doesn’t hurt to keep in touch as often as you can.
Quiz them on how they can support your marketing efforts; ask what’s in the works for the future; become a complete nuisance about everything marketing related (you’ll pay them back with impressive sales figures).
We hope this guide proves useful as you start your exciting franchisee marketing journey!