What Is Franchise Marketing? (With Definition and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 26, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It's likely that you've interacted with a franchise business if you order fast food, buy office supplies or arrange for janitorial services. While franchises benefit from the franchisor's brand marketing strategy, it's also important for these businesses to develop personalized plans to promote the business locally. Understanding how to develop a marketing strategy for a franchise can be helpful for marketers working for companies operating within this business model. In this article, we discuss the concept of franchise marketing, explore its classifications, and offer tips along with a guide for creating an effective marketing strategy for franchise businesses.

What is franchise marketing?

Franchise marketing is the promotion of franchise business to increase awareness, attract new clients, and drive revenues to a franchise location. A marketing plan might include a variety of strategies to help promote a franchise and help it grow. The marketing of a franchise business is a collaborative effort between the franchisor and the franchisee. In a franchise business, the franchisor creates a profitable brand and business model, and the franchisee maintains the brand reputation to uphold its value locally. The two types of marketing used for franchises are operational marketing and development marketing.

Franchise operational marketing

Operational marketing strategies usually focus on the local community in which the franchise business operates. Marketers at the franchisee level may create these to promote an individual location and can include ideas such as coupons, local sponsorship, or participation in special events. Where traditional marketing strategies often focus on the four Ps of marketing, including product, price, place, and promotion, a franchise marketing strategy might focus solely on promotion. This is because product development happens at the franchise headquarters, the franchisors typically advise on approved retail locations, and the contract might set the minimum, maximum, or recommended prices.

Franchise development marketing

Marketers seek to expand the list of franchisees of a business when they create a franchise development marketing plan. This type of promotional advertising attempts to attract potential investors and those looking to run and manage a business with an established and proven business model. With this initiative, the marketer might consider all four Ps of marketing in their plan development process as they provide the information necessary for those evaluating business opportunities.

Related: Marketing vs. Sales (With Definitions and Differences)

What is a franchise business?

Franchising is a method of business expansion, where the original business owner, or franchisor, grants rights to their investors, or franchisees, to operate a business under the original brand name. This business relationship typically grants the rights to the franchisee for royalties or profit shares to be paid back to the franchisor. Franchisees typically pay this fee in exchange for access to the franchisor's business systems, marketing support, training programs, products, and suppliers. The business relationship goes beyond a traditional buyer-seller model and usually involves a more comprehensive partnership.

Franchising can be an attractive business model for those looking to expand their businesses in different regions, without having to personally manage each location. For franchisees, the attraction to this type of business lies in the ready-made operational business model with access to mentorship, support, and experience from the franchisor. An agreement or contract governs the relationship between franchisor and franchisee and typically has terms between five to 20 years before the contract is up for renewal.

The importance of consistent branding

When promoting a franchise business, it's important to maintain consistency with the franchisor's brand guidelines. Since the outward value of a franchise business lies in the brand's familiarity with its customers, uniformity plays a large role in the development of marketing materials. Effective franchisors might establish a design system and guidelines that maintain the integrity of the brand while giving franchisees the flexibility to tailor marketing pieces to suit their localized needs. Here is a list of items typically outlined in a branding guideline document:

  • Brand overview: This section outlines the brand's vision and values, giving the franchisees a foundational understanding of what the brand is and what it represents.

  • Mission statement: The mission sets the purpose and goal of the business, and acts as a guide that informs the franchisee's actions and decisions.

  • Visual brand identity: To maintain visual consistency between franchise locations, franchisees follow the visual brand guidelines determined by headquarters, outlining the acceptable logo uses, colours, fonts, and imagery.

Related: What Are Branding Strategies? (With Definition and Benefits)

How to prepare a franchise marketing plan

Here are the steps for developing an effective operational marketing plan for a franchise business:

  1. Determine your budget: The first step in any marketing plan is determining the budget and resources you have available for your marketing efforts. Your budget might change based on the resources available from headquarters, the seasonality of the program, and your overall marketing goals.

  2. Establish your goals: Whether you're looking to attract potential franchisees or promote an existing franchise location, it's good practice to establish specific goals before developing your marketing plan. The more defined and specific your goals are, the easier it can be to track and analyze your progress.

  3. Identify your target market: Understanding who you're targeting is essential for developing an effective marketing plan. To ensure the local audience remains open to your brand messaging, it's wise to investigate their values and interests, to ensure your marketing materials resonate with them.

  4. Select the promotional channels: You can determine the marketing channels you might use, depending on who you identify as your target market. For example, a storage facility business trying to get more students to store their school furniture in the summer might choose to promote their services in the local college newsletter.

  5. Create content: Whether you're using templates provided by headquarters or developing your own marketing materials, creating content that aligns with the brand guidelines is essential. To help minimize your costs, you might review the materials available from headquarters to see if there are any templates or campaigns from which you can reuse information.

  6. Track and assess your results: At the conclusion of each marketing campaign, it's important to review your results to determine the success level of the campaigns. Comparing your results to the goal can show how a program performed and can help you decide on whether you might run a similar campaign in the future.

Tips for localization

While franchisees benefit from the larger-reaching, sometimes national marketing efforts of the franchisor, they are typically responsible for planning and managing their own local marketing initiatives. This allows for a more individualized approach that can help differentiate one location from another. Here are some tips to help localize your marketing strategies for franchise locations:

Maintain consistent branding

It's important for marketers of franchise businesses to follow the brand guidelines to ensure customer recognition and a memorable brand experience. Maintaining consistent branding is essential for establishing a universal and recognizable brand presence, and helps to establish customer trust and brand loyalty. Some franchisors provide their franchisees with marketing templates, customizable content, and explicit instructions on using the materials to ensure all content published remains uniform on a national or global scale.

Utilize content marketing

Content marketing is a useful tool for any marketer looking to increase awareness of a brand, service, or product. Teams using this strategy create and distribute relevant and valuable content to a specific audience, positioning the brand as the authority on a topic. Depending on your strategy, you might add content to your own website or you might partner with a media outlet to provide content for publishing. For example, a marketing manager at a sporting goods retail store contributes a monthly article to a regional magazine on seasonal activities, sharing localized recommendations, resources, and advice.

Leverage local SEO rankings

Many marketers use search engine optimization (SEO) to increase brand or location visibility within a search engine. This strategy is an efficient way to increase a website's organic rank through keyword optimization, content improvements, and link building. For example, a franchise pet store might add listings for nearby dog parks or winter exercise recommendations to their site to increase their chances of appearing in a localized search. While this method does not provide immediate results, marketers using SEO strategies might see an increase in ranks if they are consistent and effective with their efforts, and have a location-specific website.

Related: What Does a Digital Marketer Do? Everything You Need to Know

Prioritize your marketing channels

While digital marketing traditionally dominates the marketing strategies of franchise businesses, many franchise marketers still make use of these methods, including direct mail and word-of-mouth promotions. Depending on the franchise size and structure, headquarters might provide content for prescribed promotional campaigns or they might allow franchisees to develop their own. For example, a coffee shop launches a national campaign to promote a new product, providing franchisees with marketing materials to display in-store to promote the recent menu addition. Alternatively, a bike shop might host an end-of-season clearance sale at their specific location to make space for incoming inventory.

Engage with local influencers

Establishing relationships with local influencers can be an effective way to promote your brand locally. Brands using this marketing strategy might compensate influencers for sharing positive information about the business and encouraging their followers to make specific purchases. For example, an accounting firm might partner with a local and well-known influencer to help promote their services at tax-filing time. When using this strategy, it's important to partner with influencers whose personal brand aligns with the franchisor's vision and values to further ensure brand consistency.

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