Branding

Marketing a franchise: keeping on brand, and remaining consistent…

There are various pros and cons when running a franchise. Amongst the raft of benefits is the uniformity: one message, recognisable signage, and the structure and support to master every customer touchpoint.

Because a brand needs consistency, and a franchise, even more so, given that it awards a little independence to the business owner purchasing the branding rights. The risk they face is one of their franchisees demolishing any good name they’ve spent blood, sweat and tears creating. 

Luckily, marketing a franchise, across all its locations, can be made very simple indeed, and the risk of a rogue Tweet, leaflet or sign can easily be controlled. The Thinking Cap, for example, often works with the franchise owner, designing complete sets of marketing materials and literature, which only need the contact information of each individual branch dropping in by the appropriate franchisee. On the other side of the fence, so to speak, we also train franchisees to be social media savvy and highlight to them where and how they can add value to the franchise brand’s usual marketing.

Marketing for the franchisee…

The brand will drive customers to you of its own accord, but unless your other marketing messages match that of the parent company, customers will walk away feeling disappointed, disillusioned or even disgusted.

It’s important to continue to market your brand, for at least three reasons:

1)    To draw in customers who’ve been to other outlets within the brand that haven’t lived up to what the brand promised (even though this had nothing to do with you)

2)    To uphold brand messages the franchise enforces so that your loyal clientele feel the same for your outlet as they do towards the overall brand – and so the franchise founders remain happy that you took on their good name

3)    Because, even though your business lives under a familiar brand, it still has to compete with other brands in the same industry, neighbouring outlets, and the myriad things customers could do with their time and money

Making the franchise brand your own

Even though a franchise may look the same, it will be completely different to the next outlet in the chain. The difference is YOU.

Though you may have guidelines and uniformity when it comes to branding, your brand goes much deeper than the aesthetics of your business. You will have your own ideas when it comes to offering customer service. You will have local influences and opportunities that other outlets in the brand won’t have. You may have a slightly different demographic, because of your location.

Maybe you’re sat reading this, thinking, “But I don’t have time to do any marketing! I thought, by buying the franchise, I wouldn’t have to do that.” There’s no need to panic – it’s not as scary as it may sound, and we can help you to both benefits from, and give the boost to, the brand.

Employing the services of a marketing agency, such as The Thinking Cap, represents a healthy return on your investment. This is how it works: the franchise brand drives the loyalty of strangers who have no idea your particular location exists. External marketing and promotion, like we provide, can then focus on your local area and clientele, and help drive those customers to you that don’t have loyalty to the brand (yet), and who have an array of competing chains and brands to choose from. Combined, that’s a powerful attack.

The key word here is LOCAL. You need to build a community around your franchise and invite comment, reviews and feedback from your unique visitors.

Support

You’ll undoubtedly get a lot of support from the franchise owner, who will have tried and tested techniques to market the brand, as well as a deep understanding of their core market. They will help you wherever they can because your success is their success. However, it’s worth remembering that their techniques will be more suited to core messages; your responsibility is taking their one-size-fits-all content and tweaking it to fit your local clientele. You should know your customers better than they do, even if it is their name above the door.

Immediacy

The world turns at a very fast pace, and what could prove an opportunity or reason to promote – online or offline – can disappear or become old news by the time you’ve run it past your franchise’s marketing department. It’s, therefore, a damn good investmentto spend some time with us, as we walk you through the dos and don’ts, the framework and expectations, and the possibilities of your brand. We’ll cover the messages, techniques and branding that you’re handed on a plate, as part of the franchise, as well as material you could create yourself.

Social media for the franchise owner

Leaving all social media to the franchisees dilutes the overall brand message – a message that should work in conjunction with anything your franchisees are posting. Again, consistency and uniformity are key; when working with franchise owners we often create generic content on their behalf, across all their relevant platforms and mediums – so that they can concentrate on expanding their network of franchisees. The brand’s feed, as a result, remains busy, and what’s posted doesn’t interfere with the more targeted, personalised messages from franchisees.

If you already have a scheme in place that incorporates franchisee services, such as website hosting and support for a monthly fee, you could increase this slightly to cover the cost of external communications. We can then step in for you AND your franchisees, as a consistent, ‘joined-up’ voice; considering it can take five to seven mentions of your brand before customers decide to act, this is crucial.

Social media for the franchisee

With all the review sites out there, it’s easy to be saddled with a poor reputation another franchisee has created. You risk being guilty by association. However, social media and review sites can work FOR you, and help you turn that reputation around for your branch. Build relationships with your customers and encourage them to share their thoughts.

Through a blog or social media, you can talk about you, your business and your clientele as a separate entity to the franchise, just like any other local company would. Why would you need to do this? Whereas a good independent restaurant, for example, may enjoy customers travelling out of their locality for the unique experience they offer, a franchise is unlikely to encounter this, for the simple reason that another franchise outlet is likely to be nearer to said customer; to them, every restaurant under that brand is ‘the same’. This is the mentality and message you need to stop!

Utilise social media applications to get in-front of your clientele; don’t rely on the visibility of the brand to do it all. These platforms can help you make your franchise your own.

Spend some time with The Thinking Cap. Let us show you how to reap the best bits that can come from a franchise brand – whether you’re the franchise owner or franchisee. Call us on 01757 268370, or email hello@thethinkingcap.co.uk

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