Franchising is a great way to grow a business and generate meaningful income. But having a successful franchise marketing plan can be challenging.
A successful franchise marketing plan ensures that you deliver the right message to the right audience. It’s rare to see a franchise being sold out of coincidence. In other words, you don’t normally see clients coming in to buy a franchise just because they want to.
On the contrary, franchise sales are usually a byproduct of a series of well-executed franchise marketing strategies.
However, if you don’t have a plan in place yet and you’re looking into franchising, you’re in luck! Here is a list of the five basic elements of a successful franchise marketing plan.
#1 Buyer Persona
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal buyer in a particular market. There’s no sense in having the best franchising system in the world when you can’t market it to the right buyer. Successful franchise marketing is all about knowing who your target audience is.
Therefore, before launching ads or doing content marketing, it’s crucial that you know who you’re talking to. Understanding your buyers will mean that you can maximize the return on investment on your ads and the content you create.
RELATED ARTICLE: THE BEST WAYS TO DELIVER YOUR BRAND MESSAGE TO YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
To create your buyer persona, do the following:
If you’re new to franchising, you may not have an existing client to talk to who can help you with your research. What you can do instead is to find your direct competitors and look at their existing clients. Use services like Similar Web to help you find out where their online traffic is coming from.
Additionally, visit their blogs and look at the people leaving them comments. Look at their profiles and learn about who they are. At this stage, get as much detail as you can.
After doing your research, find something in common from the things you’ve gathered. Doing so will help you narrow down the specifics for creating your buyer persona. Here are some details you can look into:
- What are their ages?
- Where do they live?
- What is their occupation or level of income?
- What are their interests?
- What challenges do they have?
Once you’ve figured out the core qualities of your buyer persona, create separate categories for each type. For example, a male customer in his 40’s will have different financial goals when compared to male customers in their 60’s. Moreover, create names for each persona you create. Doing so will help you refine your message more easily. This will help you to create content for a specific buyer persona.
Your buyer personas will change as you learn more things about your target market. Be sure to revisit them and update their information when needed. Your buyer persona is the cornerstone of your marketing plan.
Most people buy a franchise because they’re familiar with the brand and feel an affinity for it. For this reason, it’s your job as a company to shape how people react and relate to your brand. For example, brands like Apple, Microsoft, and Google all have one thing in common: They all have a high brand value.
Why Is Branding Important to Customers?
Your brand value may be intangible. However, a strong brand will benefit from high customer awareness and credibility. Moreover, franchise buyers want to make sure that they’re putting their money in the right investment. A conscious buyer is willing to look for additional value through the following methods:
A customer’s buying journey usually starts online. Customers will try to research everything and anything there is to know about your business.
Some customers will also look for social evidence from customer reviews and social media profiles.
Franchise buyers will buy from companies who share their values. Without a strong brand identity baked into your marketing plan, how will you expect people to know about you and relate to your business?
Your branding journey starts with focusing on creating a strong brand message and logo. You also have to think about the tone of voice to use when talking to your target audience. Additionally, think about your color schemes, font types, and sizes. All of these things are important. That’s because you want every marketing material you use to be associated with your brand.
Be Consistent with Your Branding
There’s no sense in creating a strong brand identity when you’re not strict about its usage. As a franchisor, you need to ensure consistency with all your franchises. Create strict guidelines for your franchisees to follow when they market their products across different channels.
The bottom line is to create a strong brand identity that’s incorporated into your marketing strategy. Strong brand identity will help set you apart from the competition.
Your budget is one of the most critical elements of your marketing plan. Budget allocation will depend on your goals and your available resources. More often than not, there’s not enough budget for you to do everything. Therefore, you learn how to be more strategic. Just as when you’re handling your personal finances, a marketing budget will require you to think creatively about how to use your marketing budget.
Most franchising companies make the mistake of limiting their marketing budget to ads and promotional materials. However, a realistic marketing budget covers all aspects of your business. For example, consider the following:
You need to conduct market research to figure out what the marketplace needs. You can’t create a product without first knowing if there’s a need for it. Therefore, allot budget for focus group discussions. Additionally, you’ll want to bench mark the competition. You’ll also need to conduct surveys and hire consultants. Finally, you’ll need to test market your franchising system.
This includes payment for design, prototyping, and paying for other services that relate to your product. For example, if you have a food business that you plan to franchise, you need to pay for a culinary expert to optimize your recipe. Moreover, you’ll need to make it competitive against other food franchises.
This includes your media plan to get your product out there. The cost consists of copywriting and designing. Additionally, it includes the purchase of advertising spaces for offline marketing efforts.
Public relations take into account how you spread awareness among your market. This includes attending trade shows and sponsoring events.
The costs of marketing aren’t always apparent. Whether doing an email marketing campaign or launching an ad on social media, your goals should be to increase brand recognition and establish a relationship with your customers.
Your marketing budget may seem significant at first, and that’s natural. As you learn what marketing strategies work for different types of audiences, you will be better able to optimize your marketing efforts. In other words, as you become more experienced, you’ll be able to create a more realistic budget.
#3 Sales Funnel
Your success in sales depends on your numbers. In other words, the more money you spend on your franchise marketing plan, the more of your franchise you can sell. That’s because the money you spend on your franchise marketing generates leads. In turn, these leads fill out applications. Then, a portion of those customers who filled out the form will set a meeting. Finally, a percentage of those who went for a meeting will translate into your selling a franchise. This is what marketers call a sales funnel.
A sales funnel is a representation of a customer’s journey from awareness of the product to purchase. A sales funnel has one single purpose. That is, its function is to drive sales. When you’ve figured out who your target audience is, you can start targeting them and begin to guide them through your sales funnel.
4 Stages of a Sales Funnel
This is also called the lead generation stage. This stage is where you identify the right customers for your franchising opportunity. When you’re looking for buyers, it’s crucial to keep an open mind and try to fill your funnel with a lot of leads. You can generate leads for franchise marketing through the following:
- Website opt-in data
- Participating in trade shows and organizations
Your marketing team should always be generating leads for your franchise business. The more leads you have, the more chances you have of closing a sale in the future. It’s also vital for you to gauge the spending capability of your leads at this stage. You don’t want to be spending time and resources on a lead that can’t buy your franchise.
At this stage, you’ve already established a relationship with your lead. Now, you can consider calling them a client. This stage usually takes the longest. That’s because people want to do business with people they trust. Moreover, at this stage, they’re still undecided about whether you’re a reliable business.
What’s more, cultivating relationships is a two-way street. More than showing off what your business can provide, you have to listen to your client so you can meet their needs. Follow through on whatever you promised, whether it’s to get back to them regarding additional information or just to follow up on their decision. Doing so will help build trust and make the buying decision easier.
The positioning stage is the part where you explicitly tell your customers what you can do and how you will do it. You’ve almost closed the sale but the customer needs a bit more push.
There are various strategies that you can employ to seal the deal. For example, you can use videos to influence their buying decision. You can send your customer a video about how your franchising system works and how you’ve spent time refining the processes. Additionally, you can include stories and testimonials of other franchisees who have succeeded with your business.
Closing is the easiest part of the funnel. There’s no extra work needed. All you have to do is seal the deal with payment. Your marketing effort has paid off at this point. You were able to find out what the customer needs. And they were able to see that doing business with you is a good fit. All that’s left to do is maintain that level of relationship between you and the franchisee.
Your timing will play a significant role in your marketing efforts. Franchise businesses that don’t take into account the season of the year can optimize their marketing efforts by spending more money at specific times of the year.
For example, people aren’t usually keen on buying franchises or making any substantial investments during November and December. During this time of the year, most people aren’t focused on making life-changing decisions. That’s because, generally, people are occupied with the holiday season.
Likewise, during the summer season, people are more focused on spending more time with the family and splurging on vacations.
Therefore, the first quarter of the year is the best season to generate leads for your franchise business. For example, January is the best month to target potential franchise buyers. That’s because people are generally in a reflective state at the beginning of the year.
A franchise buying decision usually takes about 12 weeks so. Therefore, be sure to factor that in when timing your marketing efforts.
Things may be a bit difficult when you have a seasonal franchise. For example, if you’re a lawn maintenance company, you’ll have to shut the business down during the winter. Moreover, perceptive franchisors will be hesitant to offer franchises during the off-season. That’s because they don’t want franchises to struggle until the market picks up. Likewise, they won’t want to offer the franchise business in the middle of the season when franchisees can get overwhelmed.
Seasonal franchisors with a successful franchise marketing plan work backward from the ideal opening time. For bigger franchises, this could mean working backward from the grand opening. They would take into account the build-out stage as well as training and the sales process.
This is of course not a hard rule. Some franchisors will still accommodate buyers during the off season as long as the franchisee is prepared for it.
Develop a Robust Franchise Marketing Plan
Every successful franchise marketing plan starts with an ideal customer in mind. Knowing who your customers are, where you can find them, and how you can relate to them is the most critical step.
Thereafter, create a brand that people can recognize no matter where they are. This builds brand recognition and generates profit for your franchises. Finally, figure out how you can guide your customers through your sales funnel while taking critical timing into consideration.