When is the best time to start marketing your new franchise?
Buying a franchise is a really exciting time. If you’ve got the tenacity to venture out and be your own boss, you are no doubt super keen to get started marketing your business. The best thing about buying a franchise is a lot of the hard work of setting the business has already been done for you. You have a proven business model, your systems and processes are tried and tested, and you’ll have guidance and support around finding the right location and hiring the best staff. The best time to start marketing your new franchise is as soon as you are ready. So that begs the question – how do you know when you are ready?
Start with a plan
Your franchise brand will be your most powerful marketing asset. Customers may already be familiar with it, they trust it, and that goes a long way. Your head office will have a suite of creative assets you can use, leveraging that powerful brand. But that doesn’t mean your work is done. You need to build a marketing plan for your local territory. There are two distinct types of marketing planning: strategic and tactical.
STRATEGIC MARKETING PLANNING is about understanding your market, understanding your offering and your differentiators, and researching the marketing opportunities available to you in your local area. Armed with this knowledge you are better placed to make good decisions about what specific activities are best for your business at any given time. This type of planning is exactly where you should start. Work with your franchisor to start researching the marketing options in your territory. Find out how many homes or businesses are in your local territory. Are there any community or sporting groups that you could support to build your brand? What are the rules around digital marketing? These types of questions will help you identify the local marketing opportunities available to you, so you are armed with all the information you need to start to build out your plan.
TACTICAL FRANCHISE MARKETING PLANNING is deciding what actual marketing activities you are going to run and building a plan on how and when those activities are done. Normally taking the shape of a quarterly or 90-day plan, these are the marketing activities that will see your business promoted in your local area. Aligned to your marketing budget, this type of planning really does allow for easy activation of marketing, as you know what you need to do and when you need to do it. Will you do a letterbox drop? If so, when should you see that hit the market, when do you need the artwork to the printer? All of this info should go into your tactical plan.
Choose Your Message
It’s all well and good to know what you want to do and when, but you really need to spend some time crafting or selecting the message you want to share. There are two main types of marketing message: branding and call to action. Branding is focused on creating awareness of your business and showcasing it in a positive and favourable light. Sponsoring the local netball club and having your business logo on their
jerseys is an example of branding. Each time people see your logo, they recognise that your business is a supporter of the local community, and positive sentiment is established. If you are considering branding as part of your launch campaign, don’t forget that as a franchisee you have a head start in this area because your franchisor was building your brand long before you started your business. Call to action is designed to incite a change in behaviour and give your prospective customer a reason to engage with you. As a small business owner, you
should always be looking to include a call to action of some kind in your marketing, even if it is part of branding campaign. If we take the sponsorship of the local netball club, your logo on their shirts may be the branding component, but having a special offer just for members of that club adds a call to action. Often call to actions give prospective customers a clear path to connecting with you, so it helps them and helps your business.
A Layered Approach
A solid local area marketing strategy is about a layered approach. Customers may see your logo on those netball jerseys, but they might decide to do some online research visiting your website or checking your Google reviews before they take up that special. They might have decided to purchase from you, and were reminded by seeing your business on a local bus stop or on their Facebook wall as a sponsored post.
Be across what head office is doing and take advantage of their investment to drive customers to you. If they are running Google ads, you may want to consider an offline activity with a similar message to balance that. If they have a radio campaign running, then look to extend that with a paid social media campaign.
With this strong marketing foundation, you are perfectly placed to hit the ground running and start marketing, but the final piece of the marketing puzzle is making sure that once you start your marketing you remain consistent! Plan your marketing around a sustainable marketing budget and keep an active presence in your local area. Being as active and consistent as you can with your marketing will absolutely pay dividends in the long run.
This article was written by Kelli Ponting and published in Inside Franchise Business Magazine.