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FRANCHISE MARKETING SERVICES
Are you a franchisee, or corporation with multiple franchise owners, who wants to step up their online marketing game? Overthetopseo.com is the go-to provider for franchise marketing services, and we are here to help!
WHAT IS FRANCHISE MARKETING
Franchises are a prevalent and expanding slice of the American economy and — while about 50% of those are food service and restaurants — they’ve expanded into all sectors of business. Best estimates put the total number of franchises in the United States at about 750,000 and growing. Furthermore, these estimates show that franchise business makes up $782 billion of the American economy. That’s a significant portion and growing every day.
Franchise marketing refers to branded online marketing strategies for individual franchisees and their business locations under a broad corporate, national marketing strategy. It also refers to marketing to and recruiting potential franchisees with a strong, unique brand and business model.
The idea of entering into a franchising agreement with a proven business model and verifiable profits entices entrepreneurs, but — from a marketing standpoint – franchising can also have its struggles both for the franchisor and the franchisee. It’s critical to have a strategy for dealing with these issues.
THE STRUGGLES OF FRANCHISE MARKETING
Franchisees and Franchisors find that they benefit from franchising in economically learn times because of the resiliency and adaptability of their proven business models and systems. However, when times are tough, franchises must make difficult decisions and cut costs when needed. Often franchise marketing will find itself on the chopping block. However, in an evolving marketplace with technological advancements and increased media types and categories, effectively marketing your franchise is critical to the continued success of your venture.
Franchisors, with the increased number of competitors seeking to franchise their own businesses across all sectors, find themselves competing for franchise sales to franchisees. They have to balance marketing costs with revenue streams while also attracting franchisees to their business model. In an increasingly digital world, potential franchisees search for viable franchising opportunities using digital means — using search engines, tablets, smart phones and other devices. This has revolutionized the ability to communicate and market the strengths of the franchise and brand making it easier to reach prospective franchisees and consumers while also adding difficulties in other ways. This has added challenges in standing out in a crowded marketplace and making sure to get in front of the right eyes. This has made marketing, in some ways, cheaper and easier, and in others — like finding a tailored, efficient marketing campaign and structure — more difficult.
Furthermore, the Franchisor must maintain a marketing scheme that franchisees wants to buy into and entices consumers to their franchisees’ locations. Again, an increasingly digital world has revolutionized communicating brands and brand awareness across the internet and social media. Getting a franchise lost in the noise of it all would be easy. And not recognizing local needs and pitfalls is simple to do as well. Recognizing the local needs of franchisees is integral to the continued success of a franchise. A narrowly and personally tailored franchise marketing strategy is the only way to stand out in the crowd. The only way to make that work is to develop a branded marketing strategy that works at the national level, but is adaptable to be properly implemented locally too.
Franchisees, who face the same issues of increased competition from other business franchises, must adopt the marketing of their franchisor, while also seeking to compete with other franchisees. A single, universal national campaign can only go so far. Franchisees face local issues, their own individual goals and marketing strategies.
These struggles, as they pile up, paint an unappealing picture. It would be easy to just ignore it all and push forward on your own, stumbling through all the noise, looking fruitlessly for that one universal key to it all. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
An increasingly digital world with more data, more avenues of communication, more analytics means more information. Which can be great, but only if you know what to do with it. Otherwise it’s all just noise.
There is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution to these issues, no universal recipe for success, and failure is not an option. Instead, what’s needed is a narrowly tailored plan for reaching a specific audience — your audience. Not investing in marketing, not investing in reaching as many of your potential customers and clients as possible, is an expensive oversight that will cost more in profits than any potential savings from cutting back to save some marketing pennies.
THAT’S WHERE WE COME IN
We want to help you cut through all of the noise. Our goal is to help franchisors reach consumers, increase brand awareness, become category leaders, create successful concepts and unify around a single brand proposition. We understand the importance of a strong, unified brand identity to a franchise and how this relates to a sound marketing strategy. A well-designed brand is an effective brand, and that is what we can help you to develop. We will not fall for the trap of copycat brand messages, jumping on the latest trends. We will develop a differentiated brand strategy made specifically for your business with YOUR customers in mind. We will develop awareness, interest and trust in your brand and its message. We will work with you and your franchisees build local visibility and not just survive but thrive in their local market. We will work with you to develop your own marketing channels and develop your own sales funnel. Your stopped here for a reason. You need help in franchise marketing and we would be thrilled to work with you and your franchisees and help you achieve your goals.
When it comes to marketing your franchise and your brand, we can do it all. Integral to success is working collaboratively to achieve the goals you have in mind; we’ll deliver:
- Data-driven customer analysis and analytics
- Franchise marketing plans based on corporate goals and brands
- Brand positioning to stand out from the crowd
- National and local advertising plans and consumer base development
- Nationally oriented and locally integrated brand marketing campaigns, including local toolkits for implementation
- Digital presence and search engine optimization
- The creation of customer and brand loyalty programs
- Franchisee recruitment marketing campaigns
- Strategies for local implementation and orientation of national marketing campaigns
We want to work with you and would be privileged to do so.
STRATEGIES FOR FRANCHISE MARKETING
Franchise marketing is a difficult, multifaceted task to tackle. As a franchisor, you have not only marketing at the corporate level, but you also must take into account the needs of franchisees and their own personal and local issues and goals. Furthermore, as a franchised business, you must market your brand and its business systems and methods to potential franchisees. Franchisee recruitment and maintaining positive relations with current franchisees is the lifeblood of the successful franchise.
It’s a growing and increasingly crowded marketplace out there. And increased access to data and technology make communication and marketing simultaneously easier and more complicated. Integral to success is staying ahead of your competition, and we can help you do that. Please read on for helpful marketing ideas and strategies that will lead you to a better path forward.
Franchise marketing used to mean public relations strategies for print, television, radio and/or direct mail. However, with the advent of the internet, new avenues of communication opened. Now franchises must develop strategies for search engine optimization, websites, mobile sites, social media, internet video and more. Franchises must then adapt large, corporate strategies for these and adapt them to the local needs of franchisees.
Marketing strategies can be complex, but the following helpful marketing ideas and strategies can be broken down into four simple categories: (1) collecting information, (2) planning a campaign based on that information, (3) implementing a marketing strategy or campaign, and finally (4) reviewing and assessing the results of that marketing strategy or campaign.
IDENTIFYING YOUR TARGET CUSTOMER
In order to develop an effective franchise marketing strategy, you must first figure out to whom you are marketing. The first and likely easiest step is to look at your current customer base. Surveying those who are already patronizing your franchise and finding common characteristics and interests can be helpful in determining who you should be targeting with your franchise marketing efforts.
The, you can look at your competition. Who are they targeting with their marketing efforts? This information can be illuminating in two ways. It can give you some insight into a niche market that is not being covered by your competitors that you can conquer. This research can also show where you may be wasting money targeting customers that won’t patronize your franchise no matter how much effort you expend on them.
Your next step should be listing the features of your product and/or service. Next to each feature, list the benefits it provides. After that, make a list of customers that those benefits would help or to who they would they would appeal. This likely leaves you at a very general customer base — too general to use for marketing purposes — but its a good place to start. You can then use the next step to cull that into a viable target customer.
A good strategy to dig deeper into your target market is to look at specific demographics and psychographics of those that may need your product. Looking at such categories as age, gender, geographic location, education level, income level, marital status, occupation, ethnic background, values, attitude, interests and hobbies, and lifestyles and how potential customers in those specific categories can receive the benefits from your product that you listed earlier can get you to a target customer.
After those steps, you can then evaluate your target and whether enough potential customers fit the criteria of your target to warrant focusing marketing efforts on them. You can then use that information to tailor your branding message to your target customer and effectively market your product to them.
IMPLEMENTING FRANCHISE MARKETING STRATEGIES
Franchisees are attracted to your franchise brand. That’s why they become franchisees in the first place. They see the value in it. There’s something appealing about the brand to them, and they want to buy into it. Part of this brand is the corporate marketing strategy that the franchisor has implemented. Franchisees benefit from brand recognition and the proper local implementation of the franchisor’s marketing strategy. Developing a toolkit, or at least guidelines, for how to prepare and execute the marketing plan will help in the implementation of the marketing plan and the strengthening of brand awareness and recognition.
While the franchisees rely on the franchisor for guidelines or a program for ongoing marketing, franchisees also rely on the franchisor for assistance in developing a local marketing campaign that is locally tailored to their customer base. It is in the best interest of the franchise and its brand equity to develop, at least, guidelines or a review system for local campaigns. The local franchises can submit proposals for a local campaign and once approved, implement it with the oversight or help of the franchisor.
There are a variety of media choices to consider when thinking of ways to implement a marketing strategy. Each has its strengths and weaknesses dependent on the marketing strategy itself. Internet-based advertising and social media provide an immediate and potentially viral avenue of communicating with a large number of people. Direct mail provides a direct link to customers and can be narrowly tailored to specific geographic areas and demographics and can include promotions, coupons and other ways to potentially increase foot traffic for franchisees. Radio and television advertisements can target a large number of people and can be used in conjunction with specific entertainment to establish brand trust and loyalty. Loyalty programs and referrals are a form of a grassroots campaign that relies on established brand loyalty and trust to create a word-of-mouth channel to spread information regarding your franchise. Large outdoor advertising such as billboards provides another avenue of geographically tailored messaging.
Each of these media choices provides its own strengths and weaknesses and can be used, for most campaigns, in conjunction with one another to reach your target customer and build brand awareness.
Franchises put time, money and effort into creating a special brand identity. Franchisees buy into this brand identity when they enter into a franchising relationship with the franchisor. Therefore, the franchise system’s continued vitality and success rely on the proper implementation of that brand and its trademarks. Critically, franchisees must only use corporate-approved trademarks and must only use them according to franchise-approved rules and guidelines. The improper use of these trademarks or the use of unapproved trademarks dilutes and — potentially — harms your franchise’s brand. However, the proper use of those trademarks in association with the proper implementation of franchise marketing strengthens your brand and develops brand awareness and trust. A franchisor can protect its trademarks by creating a guide for their use, maintaining that guide, and monitoring the use of its trademarks in stores, across the internet and on social media. This guide can then be a part of the franchise agreement, making sticking to that guide critical to maintaining good standing and continuing with the franchise.
TARGETING INDIVIDUALS VIA MOBILE ADVERTISING
Smartphones are everywhere and ever-present. This makes them a very tempting target to reach consumers.One way to use smartphones to your benefit as a franchise, you can consider having franchisees run nationally-coordinated loyalty programs which feature texting programs featuring specials and coupons for same-day transactions. It’s important to keep in mind, for a program such as this, federal and local regulations on texting. Also, a loyalty program can be used to promote referral programs and coupons for use in store. Loyalty and referral programs help bolster brand awareness and trust as well as — obviously — brand loyalty and can increase engagement and foot traffic.
PROMOTING LOYALTY, REWARD AND REFERRAL PROGRAMS
Speaking of loyalty and referral programs, these are a great way to market your brand. Loyalty programs offer promotions and coupons for continued patronage, rewarding them for visiting franchise locations often or for buying things in store or online. This can be expanded to referral programs in which customers are incentivized for sharing your business’ brand with others and spreading the word of your business increasing brand trust and loyalty
USING ONLINE REVIEWS AND TESTIMONIALS TO INCREASE BRAND TRUST
Brand trust is important to brand awareness and, especially, brand loyalty. A simple way to build brand trust is through online reviews and testimonials. Managing your reputation online is critical to your franchise’s longevity and your brand’s success. It’s important to have testimonials on your own website, but campaigns to increase positive reviews on websites like Yelp and Google reviews, for example, can help establish equity in brand trust exhibiting positive experiences with your business and brand. Having local franchisees provide feedback and respond to negative comments or concerns and having them monitor the reviews to have negative reviews discredited or removed can help further brand equity as well.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION AND MARKETING
Franchises can seek to establish and strengthen their brand through search engine optimization to get as high in the search results as possible. Brand awareness and loyalty will help search engine optimization and vice versa. Increasing brand awareness and recognition will help your franchise’s standing in search results.
It’s important to note here that 55% of users only look at the top three results when they search on Google. If you are not in the top three results of an internet search for your product or service, then a majority of potential customers will never even see you and, therefore, your franchisees will not benefit from their association with your brand.
In order to better rank in search results, you need to organize your website in a way that is easy to understand and for search engines to index. Franchises must provide content on their website. And not just any content. A franchise needs to provide relevant content that cannot be found anywhere else. Outside of just the website, the franchise must have a social media and internet presence that establishes it as an authority that is linked to from other sources. Last, for each individual user, a franchise must be locally relevant with geo-targeted searches.
These are good first steps to marketing and optimizing your franchise for search engines, and increasing the visibility of your brand and franchise.
HIRING A PROFESSIONAL
Search engine optimization is a complex beast, as can be seen above. On top of that, the rules of search engine optimization change day-to-day. Your competitors want to be at the top of the Google search results just as badly as you do and there are competing opinions on the best strategy to get there. Hiring a service to optimize your website and its content to make sure that you’re at the top of the list can be n your best interest, freeing the franchise to focus on other marketing strategies, its business and its franchisees. Hiring a Google-certified SEO specialist service will enable you to further your business, while they stay up-to-date of the day-to-day changes.
PROVIDING RELEVANT AND VALUABLE CONTENT
One of the search engine optimization categories discussed above was content. Providing valuable, reliable, relevant content makes sure that you do not get outranked by your competitors in search engine results and makes sure you make it to those top three spots, so you get in front of the majority of target customers you want to reach.
For franchisors, your site should provide valuable, relevant content. But in some instances, franchisees have their own individual websites. If that is the case, individual franchisee websites should link back to the main corporate website and vice versa. Each of the individual franchisee websites also needs to be optimized for search engines as well. Optimized web content can be created and pushed out to individual franchisees to incorporate into their own websites. This will also make sure that each of the individual websites is, therefore, optimized for local, geo-targeted searches.
For franchisees, one of the primary struggles for search engine optimization is relying entirely on a corporate website and marketing material. If allowed under the franchise agreement, the franchisee should develop their own individual site or sub-site that is search engine optimized and filled with valuable and relevant content. If the agreement does not, seek out other avenues of optimization, such as a local social media presence.
FRANCHISE MARKETING SERVICES
Franchise marketing can be overwhelming. If you’ve gone through all of this advice and you just don’t know where to start, or just feel like your time is better served elsewhere, we’d love to hear from you! We’ll work with you to collaborate on a narrowly tailored and structured franchise marketing strategy that can help you reach your business goals. We’ll work with you to identify solutions to your unique marketing needs as a franchise. 97% of our clients stay with us and never leave, so we must be doing something right!
Contact us today so we can get started together.
ESTABLISHING CONSISTENT BRAND MESSAGING
Brand messaging is critical to brand trust and loyalty for a franchise. However, in this age of social media, everyone needs to stay on the same page. Providing your franchisees with toolkits for implementing corporate marketing strategies is integral to staying on message regarding your brand and, importantly, staying on message with your brand increases brand awareness. Effectively doing this and providing the proper tools to your franchisees will create a uniform presentation of your brand across all franchise locations. Continuing this down the chain to current brand messaging, signage, logos and in franchise locations, on local websites and across social media will bring everything together and develop and maintain brand recognition, awareness, loyalty, and trust.
GETTING THE MOST OUT OF SOCIAL MEDIA
A significant social media presence is another important part of building brand equity. It’s especially important because franchisees can control their own social media presence.
Franchisees need to have location pages on Facebook and fill their space with content and grow their audience. They can connect with their customer base and provide local, geo-targeted content that helps the franchisees presence and the franchise’s SEO. They can use Yelp to connect with their customer base, listen to important feedback and maintain a good rating for prospective customers. Franchisees can even create video content for YouTube and other internet video services to establish a social media following in line with the franchise’s brand identity.
Franchisors can and should build their own social media guide as a part of their franchise agreement providing rules and direction for establishing a social media presence. Furthermore, it’s integral in this day and age to enable Facebook Locations pages for franchisees. That way they can maintain their own social media presence and aid the SEO and brand recognition of the franchise overall.
Critical to all of this, notably, individual franchisees’ social media presence can be difficult to control and can be a nightmare for consistent brand messaging.
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