Franchise marketing is a complex discipline with many moving parts. The local franchisees have to feel both accountable for their own growth while also having a team approach and respect for the corporate direction.
The national brand has to act as a leader while understanding the regional and local differences that each location demands. Not always an easy balance to strike, which is why many franchises face challenges when expanding into a broader market.
The basis of marketing success stems from understanding who the brand is from the start and ensuring that a single brand “voice” is carried through all channels of the organization. The reward is that relevant customers and potential partners respond to consistent franchise brands.
And when they respond, the franchise grows.
How do you determine that “voice”? It starts from examining your current and aspirational customer base. How do these customers perceive the brand? What do they like/dislike about the brand? This discovery process can unveil an unarticulated need of the consumer and create an opportunity for the franchise to fill that void. The next step is to apply this voice against all the main principles of the organization.
tag franchise has been driving the success of Canadian franchise brands such as Mary Brown’s Chicken & Taters, Extreme Pita and Mr. Sub for years. The agency’s elevate marketing model has paved a path for their clients to ensure each touchpoint of their organization is strategically influenced. The six categories of the model include:
1. Elevate unity of franchisor and franchisee
This is the cornerstone of franchise success – having the franchisor and franchisee unified under a corporate vision. Franchisors must have the vision, but where so many falter, is in communicating that vision to franchisees. An U.S. study found that 45 percent of businesses do not have a formalized strategic plan and 25 percent have not detailed their core values.
2. Elevate equity and perception of the franchise
The perception of the franchise comes from the consistency of the delivery, whether the franchise is located in Toronto, New York or Atlanta, the product and service must be the same every time, for every customer. Furthermore, across the franchise, the messaging, the product and the delivery must consistently support the brand. Overtime, this will create loyalty and equity in the franchise.
3. Elevate the distinctiveness of the brand and the disruption in the category
Define how your brand is different. Is it emotional? Or is it functional? Even in a saturated marketplace, franchises need to be distinct. tag franchise recently worked with Extreme Pita on their new generation branding and found that what really set them apart from their competition was not only the healthier ingredients available, but the premium ingredients in their pita, salad and flatbread offerings. The team focused on positioning, presenting and promoting their ‘Limited Time Only’ specialty items with mouth-watering ingredients such as: sirloin steak, asparagus, and kale. The campaign was so successful that it played a major role in the communications strategy and was rolled out again this year, with equally impressive results.
4. Elevate the customers’ connection to the franchise
How to create a connection with customers to motivate repeat business? While evaluating Master Mechanic’s business, tag franchise discovered that while they have an increasingly steady flow of first time customers, there was huge growth potential in creating repeat visits of existing customers. tag developed programs that would encourage customers to come back for a second visit, whether for a service or a winter/summer tire change, and engage with the franchisee. The incentive being that when a customer came for their first visit, they would receive a discount on the second. Additionally, when customers came back for that second visit, they would ‘talk to the mechanic’; subsequently promoting a connection with the franchisee and driving business back to the store.
5. Elevate customer loyalty and affinity
Loyal customers spend more money. Creating a loyal customer base will, over time, create powerful equity in your business, and make it more profitable. International management consulting firm, Bain and Company, found that customers who are loyal to a brand, i.e. engage with them on social media, spend 20 percent to 40 percent more than those who don’t, plus they demonstrate a deeper emotional connection to those companies.
6. Elevate customer and franchisee ambassadorship
Word of mouth is arguably one of the most powerful tools available to any business, and that has only been heightened with modern technology. Good news travels fast. Bad news travels faster. Brands have experienced PR disasters as negative customer feedback goes viral. A singular brand voice, consistent quality, value and delivery is key to converting loyal customers to brand ambassadors for a franchise.
Franchise marketing requires a special skill set and aptitude in order to ensure all stakeholders have a voice, are heard, and are actively involved in the adoption of the brand direction. By following a multi-level strategic messaging approach, stemming from insights gleaned from internal and external influencers – a franchise can increase awareness, grow loyalty and profitability, and solidify their brand identity from the ground up.
Patti Laine is the President of tag franchise, formerly, the adlib group, and brings her wealth of experience and expertise on both large and small businesses to the table. She is dedicated to leading franchises to establish their voice in the marketplace and expand successful throughout North America.
For more information, visit www.tagfranchise.ca