Marketing a Brand That Isn’t Yours: Social Media for Franchise Owners

By on October 31, 2018

 Image Source: Today Testing

For any small business, marketing is the key to success. If no one knows who you are and what you do, how will they purchase your products or use your services? However, in the case of a franchise, there are both challenges and benefits.

The biggest benefit is that you already have brand awareness. If you buy a McDonald’s franchise, everyone already knows what McDonald’s is, what they do, and what to expect when they walk in the door. Your sign is recognizable, and your logos and products are well known.

In fact, if you buy a franchise that is among the list of the most profitable ones to own, you have a head start. There is already a formula for success, and if you follow it correctly, your business will likely be successful.

But what about lesser-known franchises? It is still possible to make a handsome profit, and marketing often plays a key role — especially if you are moving into an area where that franchise is not already well established.

Even with the advantages of brand recognition, there come some drawbacks as well. Here is a look at marketing a brand that isn’t yours.

There Are Rules

When it comes to marketing and franchises, there are generally some pretty strict rules. Why? Since the brand is already established, the franchisor wants to maintain that brand consistency. So when you buy a new franchise and begin to market it, you can expect to get a marketing manual.

What will that marketing manual include? First off, there will be rules you must follow to stay in good standing as a franchisee. Here are some things you can expect from that manual:

  • Franchise Rules: These will include usage guidelines for logos and the franchise brand name, how it can be mentioned, guidelines for interactions with the press, specific marketing channels, and more.
  • Comprehensive Plan: This plan will talk about initial marketing efforts and the grand opening.
  • Graphics: The plan will contain all the logo files, ad copy, and other graphics you might need for social media, your website, click ads, etc.
  • Examples: You will probably be offered examples of successful campaigns and what has worked for others in the past.

While there are rules, the marketing assets can often save you thousands of dollars and hundreds of fruitless hours of trial and error. Your franchisor will also be running national and regional ads. Coordinate your efforts with those, and they will be even more successful.

Marketing Equals Profits

One of the most important efforts you will learn early in franchise ownership is that marketing equals profits, and not marketing equals reduced income. When your franchisor encourages you to undertake certain efforts to coordinate with their campaigns, do so. When they give you seasonal marketing ideas, use them.

At the same time, come up with your own ideas based on your community. You know your customers, your city, and your store. You will come to understand the times when it is naturally busy and those times when you need extra marketing efforts to boost sales.

Don’t take naturally busy times for granted. If you run a carpet cleaning business, you may have surges in fall, spring and just before and after the Holidays. This is a great time to market your services and be even busier. Don’t take for granted that because people called last year, they will call again this year.

If your franchise has more than one location in your area, those franchises are your potential partners but also your potential competition. Customers need to know about your location and your services. The key is to always be marketing so your franchise will always be profitable.

Understanding What’s Effective

For every business, there are some marketing efforts that are more effective than others, but there are also some universal tactics that work for nearly everyone. For instance, in today’s market you need to have a strong digital presence, which means you need to have a website that wows your potential customers. The best website in the world is not enough by itself. You also need social savvy, a great user experience, and good SEO tactics.

While measuring online PR effectiveness and ROI can be difficult, this is far from the truth. There are many analytics tools you can use to understand what reach your website and social media are having even as a franchise, and there are strategies to improve them. Here are some things to remember:

  • Have your own social media pages for your location. Yes, you need to use the national branding rules and logos, but your page makes you easier to find and contact in Google and on social media.
  • Have your own location website. Many franchisers will provide one for you with minimal design support. Make the site robust and invest in it. The payoff in the long run will be huge.
  • Have a content strategy. Yes, this must align with the overall franchise strategy, but knowing what your goals are for local ranking and working to achieve them in measurable ways makes your digital marketing more successful.
  • Follow the 3 Ms of a content creation plan: maintenance, marketing, and management.

At the same time, don’t neglect physical marketing efforts. For places like restaurants, freeway signs, billboards, and other methods let potential customers know where they can find you. Print ads, coupons, and flyers are still worthwhile and cost effective.

Sometimes franchisees are charged marketing fees by franchisers to help pay for national and regional efforts. This too is a part of your marketing budget, and should be factored in to that category in your budget. These fees are often a part of the ongoing costs of licensing a franchise.

Marketing a brand that isn’t yours comes with some challenges and rules. There are guidelines set by others, logos and graphics are already created, and you do have certain restrictions. However, with the freedom you do have, you can make your marketing effective and your business as profitable it can be.

About Avery Phillips

Avery Phillips is a unicorn of a human being who loves all things related to people and their entrepreneurial spirits. Comment down below or connect with her on Twitter.
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