Building a successful franchise marketing strategy
How to create a long term marketing plan as a franchisee to generate and drive sales
Once you've completed your initial training as a new franchisee, you'll be full of enthusiasm for the products and services you are about to offer. It's at this time that the reality dawns on you that you are required to master many skills and wear different hats, two of the most important of which will be marketing and sales. You may not feel confident or comfortable in this role, but it is one you'll need to get good at, and quickly too.
Successful marketing is about accumulating knowledge and is an art as well as a science. But you shouldn't find the process daunting; embrace the task of keeping up with the changing demands of customers and finding new ways to get them through your doors or on the end of a phone.
Creating a long term goal
There are no hard-and-fast rules for creating a marketing strategy. It's up to you to set your own goals. However, as a general rule, you need to ask what you want your franchise to achieve in one year's, two years' or even five years' time compared to where it would be without a marketing strategy.
Depending on your past employment history, you may have previous sales and marketing experience, along with tactics that may or may not have worked well in the past. What all new franchisees bring to the table is the experience of being sold to, and this may substantially colour how you feel about being marketed to, and how you feel about being labelled as a salesperson.
What marketing strategy will already be in place for franchisees?
Many of the basics of marketing will already have been provided within the franchise system and structure you have chosen. This ensures that many of the common marketing challenges associated with stand-alone, independent businesses are removed. These include:
- Where to advertise? Franchisors already have a format that works for you to follow.
- How to use social media? Franchisors may have a central page on Facebook for the brand and an active Twitter account.
- What makes the ideal customer? Franchisors have already profiled this for you.
- What are the best price points? These have already been tested and refined.
- Building a recognised brand. The franchisor has already spent time and money on this.
As well as assistance with the above your franchisor may have given you some training on tried and trusted sales techniques that they feel work effectively.
What are the marketing challenges for franchisees?
Nevertheless, as a new franchisee you are still likely to come up against a number of challenges including:
- Painfully long selling cycles.
- Bad sales habits eroding margins.
- Prospects demanding – and getting – costly price concessions.
- Being part of a bidding war.
- Struggling to differentiate yourself in a competitive market.
Tips for your marketing plan
Regardless of the challenges, centralised marketing programmes are one of the greatest strengths of franchise programmes. The large central marketing fund will allow for spends, such as a TV campaign, that you may never be able to afford as an individual franchisee.
However, in addition to the overall marketing spends, you'll still need to market your individual business on a day-to-day basis, and prove that you can attract and retain customers and generate repeat sales.
Here are some tips to remember when devising your marketing plan.
- Start by setting clear objectives: where do you want your franchise to go?
- Set clear financial targets for these objectives.
- Define your target market and identify your potential customers.
- Understand the brand and the values you have bought into and need to communicate.
- Plan your promotion strategy.
- Set a budget.
- Devise a schedule.
Once you've got your plan in place, it's a good idea to check your marketing and PR ideas with your franchisor. It may be, for example, that local radio advertising has already been tried and found to be a very expensive mistake. Avoiding such pitfalls is one of the advantages of buying into a franchise.
With the general franchise marketing strategy in place, and your own marketing plans devised to complement it, your business should have a good grounding to find and understand new and existing customers, and, most importantly, drive sales.
The Franchising Bible, 2nd edition, published by Crimson Publishing, is available to buy now.