When it comes to providing marketing support to franchisees, there are a wide range of services that franchisors use to differentiate their offering in the market.
Franchisors should have a strong brand strategy to begin with, ideally with reasonable brand recognition, in order to avoid the need to build brand awareness from scratch.
Like trying to build a house without foundations, without an overall brand presence, it makes it difficult for franchisees to promote their own wares. Even if it is just recognition of the franchise name, any awareness greatly improves the franchisee’s ability to market themselves.
The vast majority of franchisors provide a calendar of national campaigns which becomes the foundation for a franchisee’s marketing. From there, often franchisees can enhance these national campaigns by making them more relevant at a local level. The frequency and value of campaigns will vary from chain to chain, but potential franchisees will often ask about this before they commit to buy.
To enhance the support they provide towards their franchisees’ marketing, there are six key areas where franchisors can invest to gain extra value:
Ensure any local area marketing activities offered as options for franchisees have been trialled and tested. This will result in more trust from the network and ultimately respect for the marketing functions. If they are offered initiatives that have never been trialled and they aren’t successful, they not only have a negative impact on the franchise as a whole, but it breaks down the relationship between franchisee and franchisor.
2. Marketing systems
There are specialised marketing systems available to enhance the function of a franchise marketing team. Before making a commitment it is important to understand what a system is for and how it will support the chain. Ideally, a franchise marketing system will be capable of managing local and national campaigns and provide leverage between the two. It also should be able to execute in both digital and traditional marketing channels. This is particularly important in the current changing world of marketing. Single-channel marketing systems that were previously successful, such as print management systems, are likely to become a barrier in the near future as the needs of the chain expand.
3. Local store marketing support
Having a local store marketing support role, similar to an area manager but with specific skills in marketing, is becoming increasingly important, particularly if a high percentage of franchisees within a chain are not marketing trained. The right local support can increase the marketing knowledge of the chain, gradually empowering franchisees to drive more local area marketing activities themselves.
4. Cluster campaign support
Often franchisors provide a service to encourage cluster campaigns: campaigns that rely on a number of franchisees to participate in a common initiative to have more impact on the local market than a single-franchise campaign. This is also a good way to save money as promoting the brand with other franchisees often creates economies of scale. The franchisor can provide support both in managing the process, executing on behalf of franchisees or simply sharing ideas. Some franchisors provide financial incentives for franchisees to join cluster campaigns, which often makes them the best option to promote a store.
5. Sales support
In industries where a sales function is required we often see franchisors provide sales systems, staff or collateral to support the network. Some even go as far as taking bookings and managing the leads from franchisees.
6. Individual marketing funds
In most systems franchisees are required to contribute a percentage of their sales into a marketing fund which then provides campaigns and support to the network. Franchisors are starting to allocate more of that contribution towards an individual store marketing fund, providing the franchisee the flexibility and choice to select what initiative they would like to execute in their local area.
There are plenty of simple ways to assist your franchisees in their marketing initiatives. Under their marketing support strategy, some franchisors manage stock items and merchandise, hire mascots or hardware for exhibitions or even provide databases for services.
Ultimately, it comes down to communicating with your franchisees to see what support they need for marketing and providing help where you can. They are representatives of your brand and your success relies on their own success.
Consider the options that best suit your franchisees and look for ways to enhance their output as well as your own.