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Top 6 Franchise Marketing Tips for Emerging Franchises

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Do your Franchise Marketing Homework Before you Register your Franchise!

 

You have a successful business and decide to expand your brand through franchising. Before you offer your franchise to prospective franchisees, you have to go through several legal registration steps and create a franchise disclosure agreement or FDD.

 

Usually, it takes between 3-6 months to get all necessary legal documents in order, depending on the complexity of the franchise structure and the legal firm you decide to work with. This is the perfect time to build franchise a marketing plan and create franchise marketing materials.

 

Use this time wisely so you can hit the ground running when you get a green light to start selling your franchise. The last place you want to find yourself as a franchisor is to learn that you need to spend another month or two building franchise marketing materials.

 

If you have never done franchise marketing before, ask for help; talk to a franchise marketing company or hire a franchise marketing consultant.

 

Table of Contents

1. Look at the competition
1.1 Create a swipe file using Airtable
2. Register and own your franchise’s online accounts
2.1 Franchise domain and social media accounts
2.2 Website hosting service
3. Build your franchise story
4. Create a franchise buyer persona
5. Create franchise marketing materials
5.1 Franchise Website
5.2 Video Materials
5.3 Franchise Brochure
6. Start building awareness in the media

 

1. Look at the competition

 

It is always good to know what your competitors are doing so you can top their marketing efforts and learn from the mistakes they have made.

 

When doing research on competitors, you should start with creating a swipe file.

 

Basically, a swipe file is a collection of different marketing materials used by your competitors.  There are various online tools available that can help with building swipe files: Google Docs, Evernote, Dropbox Paper, Trello, just to name a few. One rule of thumb: make sure the tool you pick has a collaboration feature so you can share the swipe file with your team or franchise consultant.

 

My favorite tool for building swipe files is Airtable. You can use the free version as it will cover all the essentials for building a swipe file. Here is an example of how to use Airtable.

 

Identify industry leading franchises, fastest growing franchises, and emerging franchises.

 

  • Look at competitors’  franchise website or landing pages they use. Make screenshots and attach them to your swipe file. Make a note if any videos have been used on the franchise website, and, if so, what kind of videos (for example, franchise testimonial videos).

 

  • Look at competitors’ franchise social media accounts and analyze the organic posts and current ads in place. How do they use digital marketing to promote their franchise? Again, make screenshots and attach them to your swipe file.

 

  • Read through user comments on social media or Google reviews. Make a note and document the goods, the bads, and the uglies. Believe me, you will get comments on your social media accounts the minute you start spreading the word out about your franchise; it is always good to see how prospective franchisees react to social media posts and ads.

 

  • Subscribe to competitors’ email newsletters so you can receive their promotional materials on a regular basis. Look at how they use email marketing to promote their franchise and nurture franchise leads.

 

  • Submit your information to get more information about their franchise. The goal here is to find out if your competitors use email or SMS drip campaigns. Maybe they will send you their franchise brochure. Maybe they use a call scheduler software for franchise discovery calls. Document these steps in your swipe file.

 

  • When you visit a competitor’s website and they use tracking pixels for retargeting purposes, you will start seeing their franchise advertising on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or when browsing on the Internet.

 

If you provide a detailed swipe file to a marketing professional covering the above points, you will earn the respect for homework well done. I am still waiting to see the first swipe file from prospects I am talking to.

 

Down the road, this swipe file should become an evergreen document that you should update often to keep an eye on the competition. It will become useful when you start franchise lead generation for your brand.

 

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”.

 

2. Register and own your franchise’s online accounts

 

  • Franchise domain and social media accounts

 

You will need to have a franchise website and franchise social media accounts that you will be using for franchise business development purpose. These are different accounts than those you currently use for your business’ brand awareness.

 

Your prospective franchisees might not be interested in the products you offer to the public, but rather look at the financial aspects of your business and what it takes to become a franchisee.

 

Make sure you own your domain and social media accounts, and provide access to franchise marketing agencies if needed. As a franchisor, you don’t want to be held hostage by your marketing agency if they own your domain and social media accounts.

 

I prefer Namecheap for domain registration because of the cost and free features they offer. Other domain registrars to consider for registering your franchise domain are GoDaddy and Domain.com; both are very reputable sources and have been around for a long time.

 

  • Website hosting service

 

For the same reasons mentioned about domain registration, make sure you register and control access to your web hosting. There are a lot of web hosting providers to choose from; some of my favorites are WP Engine and WPX Hosting. WP Engine is a bit more expensive, but provides better flexibility and customer service through phone support and online chat. WPX Hosting is very affordable; customer service is only through online chat.

 

3. Build your franchise story

 

If you only take one point from this article, make it this one: Create your franchise story before you spend $1 on marketing and advertising your franchise. 

 

9 out of 10 franchises make the mistake of jumping into franchise advertising and sales activities before creating a franchise story and building franchise content. They learn the hard lesson by having to deal with low quality franchise leads or lack of such.

 

What is the purpose of a franchise story? The purpose of a franchise story is to communicate your unique value proposition to prospective franchisees and show them the reasons to become a franchisee. This story will be told by your sales people, by franchisees, through social media channels, on your website, in printed publications and PR messages.

 

Don’t let your sales people come up with their version of your franchise brand story. Create your own!

 

4. Create a franchise buyer persona

 

When creating your franchise story, think of the audience you intend to address the story to. Who is your ideal audience, your ideal franchisee?

 

The process of building a fictional representation of your ideal franchise is called building a franchise buyer persona. There are many templates you can find and download online that will help you build buyer persona. For example, see these from Hubspot.

 

5. Create franchise marketing materials

 

Now that you have a franchise story and have identified your target audience, it is time to start creating franchise marketing materials.

 

  • Franchise Website

 

Since you have time before you start sales activities, I would suggest planning for a complete franchise sales website with multiple pages, blog articles, and answering potential questions about your franchise.

 

Make sure you build your website with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind from the start. It takes time for Google to index web pages of a newly built website.

 

A well optimized website will create organic traffic, and, in the long run, should save advertising funds for franchise lead generation.

 

  • Video Materials

 

Bring your franchise story to life on video. Invest in quality video production you can use on your website, in social media posts, and at industry trade shows.

 

Making quality videos takes time and planning. There are several types of videos you will need.

 

  • Franchise Brochure

 

Although it is not the most important element in your franchise marketing toolkit, it is still vital that you have a franchise brochure.

 

So many franchise organizations we talk to have only have a franchise brochure in their franchise marketing repertoire; be sure to diversify your marketing materials.

 

One thing about your franchise brochure: make it worth reading and good looking. Cover the facts that are meaningful to prospective franchisees and take good photos.

 

Keep your franchise brochure online and have a web link available so you can send a link instead of large file attachment.

 

6. Start building awareness in the media

 

Identify PR channels you will turn to when you start promoting your business. Depending on if you decide to have nationwide coverage or have a local focus for your franchise, you can pick the best online or print PR outlets. I would suggest going with industry-related channels to reach your audience of prospective franchisees.

 

In this article, we covered just a few important steps you should take before you start sales and marketing activities for your franchise. If you follow this guide, you will be better than many emerging franchises on the market. It is your responsibility as a business owner and emerging franchisor to set the pace for a fast growing franchise and identify potential business opportunities. Future franchise recruitment and quality of generated franchise leads will depend on the franchise marketing strategy built on often overlooked basics.

 

Dmitriy Lobanov

I help franchises grow by optimizing franchise marketing initiatives and generate franchise leads. I share my marketing knowledge online and through events in various parts of the world. Connect with me on LinkedIn.