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Franchise Marketing: 5 Tips to Crush It

by Barb Cronin

Franchise marketing is essential to stay competitive and grow your customer base. Whether home services, food services, or any other type of franchise, engaging, nurturing, and converting customers is key to success. 

But for franchisors and franchisees alike, this can be their biggest challenge. 

In fact, according to a survey from Franchising.com, ‘franchise lead generation’ is a top challenge for franchise owners and founders. Whether you’re a franchisor or franchisee, you need to engage in effective franchise marketing to stay competitive and grow your business. 

What is Franchise Marketing and Why is It Important?

Franchise marketing is any type of effort you or your franchisees make to promote your business. Whether it’s at a trade show or on social media, franchisors and franchisees need to market their products and services. They also need to do all of this while maintaining brand consistency and standards. 

Consistency from location to location is a driving force of success for franchises, so when it comes to franchise marketing, franchisees may be restricted by centralized rules. They should also find some corporate support for promotional budgets and distribution.

However, many franchisees find that even with this support, they’re lost when it comes to effective marketing for their franchise. 

If you’re ready to crush franchise marketing, here are five tips to help succeed (with or without your franchisor’s guidance): 

5 Tips for Franchise Marketers

1. Make a Plan

Hand with a pencil writing a list.

Everyone knows that to achieve success, you must start with a plan. Franchise marketing is no different. There are many different types of marketing options and strategies, and if you don’t have a strategic franchise marketing plan, you’re basically throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. 

By taking the time to develop a strategic franchise marketing plan (and continually assess the results), you’ll be missing valuable marketing opportunities–and leads. 

🗓️ A study found that proactive planners are 3x more successful than their peers.

The first step of your marketing plan should be to decide which channels or platforms you want to start your marketing efforts on. There are a lot of choices, so be sure to pick the ones that are best suited for franchises, as well as your specific industry.

Channels for Franchises to Consider

The channels where your customers spend time can vary from one type of business to the next. This will be something you’ll want to uncover as you develop your buyer’s persona, which we’ll talk more about next. 

Social media 

There are certain channels that most franchisees and franchisors find helpful – one is social media. A strong social media presence, which includes prompt responses and positive interactions with your brand, can add a lot to a brand’s efforts. 

One study reported that social media is the second most used channel for consumers to report complaints. Franchises with a strong social media strategy have the opportunity to engage quickly with consumers and turn their negative experiences into positive ones. For franchise owners with multiple locations to manage social media can be a big support. 

In fact, in that same study, Sprout Social reported that 71% of consumers surveyed were more likely to purchase from a brand after a positive social media experience. 

Social media is vital for franchise marketing today. However, it’s also a good idea that you don’t bite off more than you can chew. Consistency is key–especially when it comes to franchises and marketing. Pick a platform where most of your target audience spends time and start there. 

Email

Email marketing is one of the most successful types of marketing with an average ROI of 36:1. What’s more, revenue from email marketing will reach nearly 11 billion by the end of 2023 according to Statista. 

Crafting personalized emails with relevant content and targeting them to specific users will help drive conversions, nurture slower-to-convert customers, and build a loyal and robust customer base. It’s vital to include email marketing in your franchise marketing plan. 

📨 50% of consumers make purchases from marketing emails at least once per month. (SaleCycle, 2022)

Trade shows and conventions

Trade shows and conventions are a great place for franchisees and franchisors alike to sing the praises of their products or services. Whether it’s home services or the food industry, trade shows help franchisees connect with a larger audience and get face-to-face time with target customers.

Traditionally, collateral for these types of events is print. However, today’s digital age requires the ability to connect digitally even when in person. Text campaigns, QR codes, and more make this possible. 

When you craft your trade show marketing plan, be sure to include a digital aspect.  

Local listings and local marketing

Most franchises will want to engage in local marketing efforts. While their brand may have a national presence, it’s critical that your local audience knows you’re right around the corner and a part of the local community too. 

📍 Consumer surveys found that up to 93% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses close to them.

Keeping your Google Business Listing And other popular local directory listings updated is a great way to grow your reputation, locally. You’ll also want to consider the types of phone numbers you’re using and be able to track calls from those sites. Being able to use a variety of phone numbers like local, vanity, and even toll-free, can help you connect with more customers. 

Paid ads

Paid search advertising refers to ads on sites like Google or Bing for example. Paid ads target keywords your audience is searching for and when one of your ads is clicked on, you pay a predetermined cost. This ad then directs viewers to a landing page or your website. 

Paid ads are an essential part of a franchise marketing plan, however, it’s vital to understand that some of these keywords can be expensive. Some industries have more expensive keywords than others. 

It’s wise to first determine a paid ad budget. As mentioned, paid ads can be costly so this is one area where it’s vital to assess the performance of ads and adjust as needed. You’ll want to be sure you are getting full attribution in order to effectively assess the performance of these campaigns.

Certain tools offer the ability to automatically optimize paid ads based on performance in real-time. As you become more familiar with paid ads, this is a good tool to use. 

SEO

Like paid ads, SEO or search engine optimization is a major part of a successful marketing plan. SEO can help you establish your brand identity, nurture relationships with customers and prospects, and stand out from the competition. 

SEO can be a big undertaking but it’s a must to include this in your franchise marketing plan. It’s good to first evaluate where your current SEO stands. Based on that, you’ll want to develop a plan to begin SEO efforts or bolster them. 

If you’re just starting out, you don’t have to invest in software platforms like SEMrush or Ahrefs right away. Simply brainstorm some popular topics in your industry, do a Google search, and see what comes up in the results. This will help you determine not only what people are looking for around this topic but you can also see if your competitors are showing up in organic (or paid) results, and what you can write about to grab your customers’ attention. 

You can learn more about SEO and keyword planning in our guide, The Modern Keyword Research Playbook. 

Review sites

Review sites can be very should for franchises even those with a national presence and good reputation. Reading about others’ experiences with your brand on review sites can make or break a sale. Review sites are yesterday’s word-of-mouth referrals and are powerful. 

Be sure to include a strategy to regularly engage in and update review sites where your brand–and your competitors are found. Like social media, this can be another opportunity to change a negative experience into a positive one for your customers. Paying attention to both positive and negative reviews and responding accordingly can pay off big. 

Website

As you can see there are many ways to engage with your audience and it goes without saying your website should be your first and foremost consideration. This is the place where you’ll drive most of your other advertising so you want to make it valuable and help nurture prospects down the sales funnel. 

Most franchises will have guidelines for websites and some even help build them. Follow your brand guidelines and be sure what is on your website is emulated across the other platforms you choose to use. 

2. Engage in Omnichannel Communications

Yellow background with tiles representing storefronts in a line.

From websites and paid ads to social media sites and bus wraps, there are a lot of places your target audience engages with your brand. The options can seem endless (and a bit overwhelming). And while it’s important to have a presence everywhere your audience is, it’s even more important to deliver a consistent, branded message and interaction. 

This is vital for franchisors and franchisees.

A disjointed, disconnected message that isn’t the same from location to location, agent to agent, and experience to experience will harm your brand. Users won’t know what to expect when they engage with your brand so they’ll move on to a company that has a strong brand identity and delivers a consistent experience (think Starbucks). 

This consistent messaging, across multiple platforms is what’s referred to as omnichannel communications

Some people mistakenly think this means communicating with your target audience across all possible channels. This isn’t what an omnichannel communications strategy really is. Omnichannel communication means to engage in consistent, branded communications on all of the platforms that you’re using to communicate with prospects and customers 

Omnichannel communications should be a part of your franchise marketing plan but first, you have to know who exactly you’re talking to. This means developing a buyer’s persona. 

3. Understand Your Target Audience and Develop a Buyer’s Persona

Yellow paper with an ear and two hands poking through to represent listening.

Before you can start creating branded messages and content you have to know who your target audience is and what their pain points are. Without this information, you’ll have a hard time engaging and connecting with them. 

Taking the time now to define who your ideal buyer is, will pay off in the long run. There are different approaches to developing a buyer persona. You’ll want to find one that works best for your team and specific industry. Once you begin to get data on your ads and marketing efforts, you can fine-tune it. 

Your buyer persona will help you determine: 

  • Best channels to engage with your audience
  • Tone of voice and style to use in your messaging
  • Types of ads that convert the best leads
  • Keywords your audience is searching for
  • What products or services they want

Your buyer persona profile should be something that when you or anyone on your team looks at it they have a real-life person in their mind’s eye. The persona (or personas) is who all your marketing efforts and messages should be geared towards. 

A buyer persona profile should include: 

  • Job title
  • Education background
  • Work experience
  • Age range
  • Top challenges in their role
  • Who they answer to
  • What their work goals are
  • Where they do their research
  • What they do in their spare time

This is by no means an exhaustive list however, these pieces are crucial to include. 

After you do a little marketing and have some data to look at, you’ll want to use tools like conversation analytics to get an even deeper understanding of your ideal customer and what attracts their attention and makes them convert. 

Strive to develop more detailed buyer personas as you progress. This will help you further perfect and personalize your messages and campaigns. Segmenting messaging and campaigns helps to drive more engagement and is something you’ll want to do as you grow. 

HubSpot reports that the most effective strategies for email marketing campaigns are subscriber segmentation (78%), message personalization (72%), and email automation campaigns (71%).

You can create personalized messages and user experiences even as you scale. In fact, you must do this to stay competitive. 

Remember a Style Guide

Franchisees can look to franchisors for a style guide however not all will have them and in some cases, you’ll want to create a ‘cheat sheet’ to remember the most – guidelines at a glance. 

Style guides are more or less the rulebook for how you will communicate with your audience. Style guides should include rules for both written and visual elements. You’ll want to decide basic parameters like what size and style of font you’ll use, where and how your logo can be used if you use the Oxford comma, and more. 

While these may seem like trivial points in a franchise marketing plan, these are the building blocks that will make your messages–across all platforms and interactions–consistent. It’s a good idea to build templates to use from location to location so you can be sure everyone is on the same page. 

4. Execute

Yellow background with tiles in a circle representing franchise marketing.

Now that you have a solid plan in place the next step is to execute that plan. While it may seem daunting at first, remember that getting going is half the battle. Depending on your marketing experience and the size of your team, you may need to enlist support to get started. 

You should use software like Google Analytics to help track activity and engagement. You’ll also want to use a CRM like Salesforce or HubSpot to help keep track of your customers and leads. There are industry-specific platforms that lend themselves to one industry over another. Be sure to do your research and find the tech stack best for your industry and for franchises. 

You’ll want to use automation tools whenever possible if you’re working with slim resources. Some of these platforms offer the ability to pre-schedule and automate workflows which will make your life a lot easier. 

Once you begin to execute your plan, you’ll want to keep track of what’s going on and adjust as needed. Remember that successful marketing is not set it and forget it. You need to keep tabs on what your audience is doing and how they are responding to your campaigns and messages. 

5. Track, Analyze, Optimize

Graphic of a billboard showing a car service franchise.

After you execute your plan, you’ll want to start gathering data. Data on where your leads are coming from and attributing conversions to the right source are both pieces of a franchise marketing strategy. 

Some of the tools mentioned above like Google Analytics and Google Ads will help you to do this. You’ll be able to see online activity and the touchpoints all along that journey. However, this data will not include any data from phone calls or other offline interactions like texts. 

In order to track phone calls, you need call tracking. This is particularly important for some types of franchises, like home services, with customers who almost always call before they make a purchase. 

Call tracking is a franchise marketer’s secret weapon and lets you see the ROI of all your marketing efforts. With call tracking, you’ll see exactly which ads make customers call–you won’t have to guess. For franchisees, this is a critical component of an attribution plan. With hundreds of locations and both local and national advertising, without call tracking, the person answering the phone at local offices really has no idea what ad the caller saw. 

But that’s not all. 

When you use call tracking as part of a marketing attribution plan, you’ll get firsthand insight into your ideal customers and what makes them tick. You can live listen to calls or recordings at a later date. Or, use AI-powered tools like AskAI to automatically sort through conversations and report back with the information you pre-determine. You can ask: 

  • What was the sentiment of this call? 
  • Is this a good lead? 
  • Was an appointment scheduled?
  • Is this caller ready to buy? 

You can pair this with triggers to determine and automate the next best steps like a follow-up text with an appointment reminder or an email sending more information. 

This is just a piece of what a modern call tracking platform offers to franchises. With this information, you can analyze your current strategy and make immediate changes to optimize all your efforts. 

This information helps to: 

  • Optimize paid ad spend to focus on the ads and channels working best
  • Fine-tune your buyer persona
  • Fine-tune your messaging to connect with your audience better
  • Drive more, higher-value conversions
  • Inform product development teams

Franchise marketing can seem a bit daunting if you’re new to it. However, with the right strategy and tools you can be successful. Remember, do your research, build a solid plan, and see what happens. And of course, remember to be sure you’re getting the right data to effectively assess and optimize! 

“The online marketing process never ends because you need to keep making adjustments to see what will provide the best results.”

 
– Neil Patel

CallTrackingMetrics supports franchises across the nation with powerful attribution, lead management, and automation tools powered by AI. Learn more about how CTM supports franchises to drive more revenue.