Running a local franchise business requires a broad skillset. From day-to-day operations management, customer service, accounting and business planning, to HR, inventory control and facilities management—franchise business owners wear many different hats. For many franchisees, one hat that never seems to fit quite right is that of marketer.
That’s not to say that franchisees lack an understanding of the importance of marketing and promotion to the success of their business. In fact, in a recent survey of franchise SMBs by local media researcher BIA/Kelsey, franchise owners reported more than half of their business is derived from promotions.
Yet, franchisees don’t always know how or have enough time to market effectively. As business owners, they are focused on running their businesses. Most possess a basic understanding of marketing principles and tactics. But they lack the dedicated time and attention that is increasingly necessary for reaching today’s consumers.
Even when using the latest marketing tools, tactical execution at the local level may fall short, which can reflect badly on your franchise brand. We’ve all heard plenty of stories about local marketing disconnects—from piles of outdated franchisor-produced flyers gathering dust in a back room, or signage that is haphazardly propped up in a corner where it can’t be seen, to one-off promotional emails pushed to an outdated, untargeted contact list. This kind of execution is destined to generate little to no results, which frustrates franchisor and franchisee alike.
We’ve identified several tendencies among franchisees that impact their marketing decisions. These represent opportunities for franchisors to better support franchisee marketing efforts and foster a marketing culture at the local franchise level that will lead to more effective marketing programs.1. APPRECIATE THAT FRANCHISEES ARE PRUDENT MARKETING SPENDERS
Our franchise clients have told us many of their franchisees leave co-op dollars on the table. The BIA/Kelsey study confirms one-third of franchise SMBs opt out of co-op dollars. One reason, according to the study, is that 17.3% of franchisees would like easier access to co-op funds. Consider how your franchise organization can streamline its process and increase co-op participation.
Another factor is that franchisees don’t want to invest in materials that have a short shelf-life, or commit to minimum required quantities that may go to waste. They also don’t want to be saddled with a one-size-fits-all package of materials, which may include items like signage that they can’t use at their location due to local community restrictions. They are very pragmatic when it comes to marketing spend.
This means that franchisors need to offer more flexibility and customizability in the local marketing materials they provide. Enable franchisees to select materials they can actually use. Consider the lifespan of the materials you create and enable small enough quantities that your franchisees can buy only what they need.2. SUPPORT FRANCHISEE PRIORITIES LIKE TRAINING AND TURNKEY SOLUTIONS
Franchisees report they use, on average, 20 different free and paid advertising and marketing channels. Managing so many marketing channels can be overwhelming, even for a seasoned marketer. This may be why two of the top four marketing resources franchisees would like from their franchisors are related to training—33% want more training in digital marketing and 22.2% want more training in non-digital marketing.
Related to the need for more training, is a desire for simplified, turnkey campaigns that do not require a time investment to learn how to execute. We have become an “out-of-the-box” culture, with neither the time nor the patience to come up to speed on new technologies and approaches. This applies to marketing platforms and campaigns as well. If you want your franchisees to adopt what you know are effective marketing tools, tactics, and campaigns, make them as turnkey as possible. Avoid lengthy and challenging instructions and integrate easy customization and execution steps that allow your franchisees to quickly make a campaign relevant to their local markets.3. PROVIDE EXPERT GUIDANCE ON THE VIRTUES OF LIST MANAGEMENT
A targeted and up-to-date customer contact list is a powerful and essential asset for every marketer. Franchisees typically have large customer lists, many with 500-plus contacts. But they do not aggressively utilize this asset for direct marketing. For example, while more than half (52%) of franchisees reported to BIA/Kelsey that they use customer loyalty programs, fewer than half use their lists of loyal contacts for promotions. Even franchisees that are collecting customer data at the point of sale are not using that data for loyalty and direct marketing.
Franchisors that make a point of helping franchisees easily link their lists to marketing campaigns can reap significant rewards. Marketing technology can be intimidating for a franchisee to set up and use effectively. Proper training and set-up assistance from a franchisor or technology vendor will enable franchisees to build loyalty, generate repeat sales and increase conversion rates across their direct marketing programs.
INSPIRE YOUR FRANCHISEES TO BE BETTER MARKETERS
As a franchisor, you have an opportunity to build a marketing culture among your franchisees by providing the right tools and training in a form that ensures effective local market execution and supports their priorities related to marketing spend, skills development and time commitment. If you provide franchisees with turnkey campaigns and other simplified marketing resources and processes that can be easily implemented by non-marketers, you’ll actually end up with a more sophisticated and effective marketing operation at the local level.
More local marketing benchmarks for the franchise industry – including media spend and budget allocation – are available in BIA/Kelsey’s report, Franchise Advertising and Marketing Research. You can download it for free here, compliments of Vya.