How to Market Locally – The Franchisee’s Role in Marketing the Business
Success or otherwise of a particular retail franchise depends primarily upon each franchisee’s local marketing efforts. When a franchisee markets his or her business among the local community, of course it has to dovetail with the corporate/franchisor marketing strategy. Failure of a franchise outlet is all too often the result of a franchisee believing he has bought a business for which everything is laid on for him.
A large part of what the typical franchisor does is its marketing efforts on behalf of the entire network. It will typically have twin objectives:
- to build a strong brand for the network; and
- to attract customers.
What the franchisor does
Both these require the franchisor and franchisees working together to send a consistent message to prospective and current customers. For this reason, franchisors set strict rules for the use of their trademarks, and control the use of marketing and advertising materials.
In building up their franchise system, franchisors would typically have gone to great lengths, effort and expense to develop their ‘brand personality’ and many owners have sleepless nights that one poorly chosen franchisee could ruin it. They therefore usually provide franchisees with specific marketing and advertising materials for adaptation to the franchisee’s use; or where they create their own materials, approval from the franchisor is typically required.
Most franchisors will develop a comprehensive marketing plan for the entire franchise, typically including advertising campaigns via television, radio, online and social media, and possibly public relations. Franchisees benefit from this brand equity, but should also do more within their local communities.
The franchisee: success comes from partnership
Where the franchisee comes in is choosing what platforms to use, and localisation of group marketing.
Some top tips:
- Grassroots marketing includes encouraging referrals, participation in community events, local charity events and networking. Many small businesses sponsor local school sports teams, events and charities – and this tends to get remembered.
- No form of marketing can beat positive word-of-mouth compliments based on a customer’s actual experience of your quality of service. Of course, this goes well beyond marketing to addressing the entire service culture of your business. This is usually a good thing!
- The in-store experience has to be the franchisee’s primary focus. Welcome each customer and have your staff make a tremendous fuss of them as though seeing them is the highlight of their day. Know them personally if that’s humanly possible. One franchisor who started with a single store says, “I did this with my first store and after a while had people coming to buy from my store every day.”
- Get to know who your competition is, how many competitors exist within your franchise area, what services they offer, and what is their pricing structure.
- Franchisees should put aside sufficient budget for online advertising – and it need not be a huge expense. One proven marketing strategy is to maintain a strong internet presence – both by the franchisor and each franchisee. It is possible to create a situation in which when someone Googles your generic product, such as ‘sandwich’, that your franchise name is the first website that comes up. This has been achieved, but of course to maintain that search engine presence requires constant updating.
- Get to know local businesses (through community newspapers or just driving around a 10km radius) and make an appointment to take their CEO a sample of what you do, if it’s that type of product. For instance, in the case of food it’s easy – take them a free lunch. You will find it an easy way to get access to their entire staff. Many staff of smaller firms do not go out, even at lunch, so aim to bring your product to them, especially food.
- Get email and social media addresses from existing customers and their friends, as bulk digital communications are a good means of attracting new customers. Facebook is the primary marketing tool for franchisees, as marketing efforts can be targeted according to your suburb. To get real value from Facebook, businesses need to advertise on it. Don’t forget there’s also Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and more.
- Once you have accumulated a large address list, it can be used to market to them directly: promote daily specials and incentives on a community basis, as well as content that includes interesting information either about your community or trends in your business. You can send out emails, for instance, offering a free product to anyone who provides the names of five friends. You can also offer a free product on their birthday – so try get that information. Get a substantial email list together.
- A favourite with franchisees are flyers attached to a delivery.
Marketing is never-ending
An important element of marketing is that it has to be continuous. People change addresses, jobs, spring clean their homes, offices or desks, thereby losing your phone number. Contact them regularly to maintain the relationship. Your business’ success depends on how well you get to know your customers and when you get to know them your business is bound to succeed.