Marketing for a franchise or for a business that sells exclusively through distributors presents unique challenges. If marketing is done solely at the franchise level, it’s a missed opportunity for local campaigns that take into account the needs of a particular community or region. At the same time, leaving marketing decisions entirely up to individual franchisees can lead to campaigns that feel disjointed or even off brand; some franchisees might see success while others waste time and money on poorly executed campaigns.
How can a franchise owner empower franchisees to run marketing campaigns that are on brand, in sync with the overall marketing approach, and — most importantly — successful? Here are four tips we share with all our franchise customers.
You’ve likely got a corporate marketing strategy, but when you’re working with franchisees, distributors, or channel partners, your strategy is only as good as your communication plan. Plan to communicate with your franchisees regularly, not just when the strategy is initially rolled out. They’ll need to be notified every time a new piece of content or creative is available for them to use, any time you decide to pivot your messaging, and when you’re running specific promotions. It’s a good idea to implement a regular email newsletter so that franchisees learn to expect regular updates and know who to reach out to with questions.
Your franchisees know their local market, and they know their customers. Encourage them to leverage this knowledge by tailoring their marketing campaigns to be relevant and compelling for their audience. For example, you might be running a holiday campaign, but a direct mail piece with images of snowy winter scenes might land better in Minnesota than it will in Hawaii.
What’s more, we know that personalization can supercharge the response rate on your direct mail, so it’s crucial that each franchisee be able to run campaigns that put their customer data to good use. Which leads us to our next suggestion...
Make it easy for franchisees by directing them to a central online web-to-print platform that contains all your (on-brand, pre-approved) marketing templates. These templates can be customizable, designed to be personalized with variable data, and changed out as often as you’d like. Using an online portal for marketing collateral management means each franchisee can upload their data and easily order a campaign any time of day or night. No complicated layers of approval or delays due to time zone differences. Giving franchisees access to an online platform makes it easy.
We recently created an online solution just like this for a large multi-unit franchise customer. The solution we created has over 100 variable templates, each with options for customizable return addresses, images, and phone numbers, meaning each campaign can be tailored to the franchisee's local area. Our customer has added hundreds of new franchisees in a short period of time, and this online solution has helped each new franchisee get up and running — and marketing — quickly.
One of the superpowers of the local franchisee is its ability to mobilize support for national campaigns. Because these businesses have roots in a particular community, they are able to reach the audience on the ground through one of the all-time best-performing channels: human-to-human relationships. Brand loyalty is built through positive interactions, and local franchisees simply have more opportunities to create the memorable moments that serve and delight customers.
Where the franchise can really benefit from these relationships is by creating digital touchpoints at the national level to which each local campaign can drive online traffic. Landing pages, video, and interactivity through augmented reality are all examples of digital campaign elements that can be hosted at the national level so that local audiences share in one cohesive, omnichannel experience. Success at the local level brings success at the national level, and everyone wins.
We love to help franchises streamline their marketing operations and create more positive experiences for both their customers and their franchisees. Are you a franchise owner who could benefit from a more strategic approach? Let’s talk.