5 Secrets to Successful Franchise Marketing

The heart of marketing is clear, consistent, and effective brand communication.

By Dan Coday
Let’s say your franchise business was founded on a great concept and has grown consistently since its inception. The business model is a proven success. Operations are humming along like a well-oiled machine, and your local teams are trained and experienced. Though it has taken a few years to get to this point, you feel you are now poised to see a major increase in sales and income. What is the most important element that will propel your franchisees to the next level? In a word: marketing.
The best franchise businesses excel at marketing: the action, art, and business of promoting and selling their goods and services. In essence, the heart of marketing is clear, consistent, and effective brand communication. What are top franchises doing to stand head and shoulders above the rest? Here are five secrets to successful franchise marketing: 

1. It’s All About Communication

Successful franchise experts will tell you that the secret elixir that fuels all franchises is communication. It’s understood that most franchises, whether they are in the health club or insurance industry, start out with a truly remarkable and exceptional idea which establishes their brand. The challenge is finding brilliant ways to communicate the benefits of the original discovery over and over until critical mass is achieved with clients and customers who are dedicated brand loyalists. This establishes a local, then regional reputation, followed by national recognition for being the very best. In a nutshell, this is the tried and true recipe for creating a successful franchise operation and a nationally known brand.
It’s important to remember every franchise has a story. Every story starts with a great idea, and every great idea begins with a dream. Dreams are equal parts creativity, imagination, and vision. What sets great franchises apart from a million other failed ideas is the ability to bring dreams into reality. So, when you’re communicating the brand message of a franchise, you are really telling the story of someone’s dream, and the truth is, everyone loves a story where dreams come true. 
Effective communication isn’t just found in a brochure or on signage. It’s everywhere your brand goes. From social media and your website, to business cards, blog, mobile ads, and print, the story should be told consistently and effectively. 

2. Brand Consistency

When it comes to franchise marketing, two words come to mind: frequency and consistency. In a crowded marketplace, it’s crucial for franchisees to stay on message and to be in constant communication with their audience, consistently defining their brand throughout all media. If you listen to radio for any length of time, you discover that stories are repeated over and over. This is because radio programmers understand that the audience is constantly shifting and changing. Some people are tuning in and others are tuning out. In radio, every 15 minutes you need to start all over again for the new listeners who’ve just joined in. The same is true in delivering your marketing message, maybe not every 15 minutes, but your audience is shifting and constantly changing, too. New customers are moving in and others are moving on, but they all need to hear your message. 
To build the consistency you need to create a powerful brand that resonates and sticks with your target market, it’s important to define your messaging and brand elements. This includes your logo, tagline, product or service names and colors. For example, a chain of home care service providers can increase its visibility and credibility by having a consistent style for its capabilities package it gives to prospective clients. By being disciplined with your branding and providing franchisees with the tools to maintain brand consistency, you are establishing a foundation that increases the overall strength of your franchise.  

3. Quality Marketing Tools

One of the more inconvenient truths about running a franchise is the inordinate amount of time it takes to create and produce quality marketing materials. Just ask anyone who has attempted to write and assemble a simple tri-fold brochure with photos and graphics. Many small businesses fail, or fail to thrive, because the owners don’t have the time to devote to creating the kind of marketing that will take them to the next level. For most owners, it’s enough just to open the doors each day, greet the customers, and keep the operation running successfully. 
But savvy franchise operators understand they benefit from strength in numbers and the ability to access professional level marketing and training materials to help them run their businesses and train their employees. By providing your local teams with the tools they need, you can ensure they stay on message and brand while minimizing the time they need to do so.

4. Digital Solutions

The greatest marketing equalizer of all time is the internet which enables and empowers companies large and small to promote their message on an even playing field, limited only by their moxie and imagination. In the old days, small companies had no chance to compete with large, multinational corporations on TV. Big advertisers ruled the airwaves, and there was simply no way around that. Nowadays, marketing on digital channels allows local franchisees and parent companies the ability to compete with larger competitors. Your message can appear right next to a Fortune 500 company, and no one would know the difference. Yet, this more level playing field comes with its own set of challenges. Does your online presence contain brilliant copy and professional level graphic design? Is your brand being presented in a way that reflects positively on your business?

5. It’s the Little Things

Finally, successful franchise marketers understand it’s often the details that make a big difference in the hearts and minds of their customers. A well-thought-out phone system with professional level voice talent guiding callers through the prompts can mean a lot to someone who’s calling after hours. Thank you cards and coordinated mailings can be effective reminders to your customers. Well-trained employees who can actually think on their feet are a treasure. By staying focused on the big picture, while always ensuring details are not overlooked, franchises can ensure their success and provide incredible opportunities for their owner operators too. 
Dan Coday is Vice President of Enterprise Sales for Xpressdocs. Prior to his current position, Coday managed international sales activities for Tower Tech and held senior positions in the advertising and manufacturing industries.