lessons i've learned when it comes to franchise marketing

I posted a little quote on social media earlier this year in regards to franchise marketing and how each location (should) remain consistent in their messaging. Why? Because this affects the overall brand and customer experience. From start to finish. Period.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a product or service - online or brick and mortar - THIS ALL MATTERS!

See, I can speak from experience. I’ve spent several years in the marketing world and I’ve worked for some of the best franchise brands in North America. Whether it’s 3 locations or 300+ locations across 3 continents,

I’ve done it.

I’ve seen it.

I’ve contributed to it.

I’ve rebranded it.

I’ve enhanced it.

I’ve aligned it.

I’ve preached it.

I’ve datafied it.

The years spent at these companies have been some of the most successful in my career resulting in some of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Heck, I even got one of these companies brand on 8 million Starbucks cups all without spending a penny!

Junk Starbucks Cup.jpg

But one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned and continue to preach to franchise companies, or those wanting to franchise, is that consistency matters and it relates to everything. Every department, employee, product or service, return policy, customer interaction, price point, operations and so on. This is reflective of your brand far beyond the visual assets.

I mean E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.

You may be thinking, well that’s easy to do. You identify a need, create the brand then launch and market.

But then there are the franchisees.

They believe in your brand and invested in it for a reason, but they still want to do things their way. They know their community better than anyone and believe they can market to it better. Some don’t listen; some push aside the brand standards guide. All things I’ve dealt with.

One of the biggest challenges marketers face when working within a franchise model is not just working with everyone cohesively as a team and to educate them, but preaching the importance and impact of a company’s story, brand consistency and how to apply the brand across all channels. How do we do this to ensure everything happens the way it should happen? Franchisors are always tweaking, perfecting and refining their brand, how they do business, how they evolve and grow, what their message is and how they market to the public.

So what do you need to know about franchise marketing? Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years:

  1. Consistency in everything you do. EVERYTHING as I mentioned above.

  2. Educate, educate, educate. Systems change, plans change and brands evolve over time (believe it or not). Sharing all of this internally should be one of the first things you do. If your team isn’t aware of these, then you’ve missed the boat.

  3. Communicate the importance of branding. If franchisees don’t understand why they’re doing something, then you’re leaving the door open for interpretation. Involve them, educate and explain to them the intent and goal behind all marketing initiatives and why it’s key to establish long term brand value. Keep the doors of communication open. Always.

  4. Preach the story. A brand’s story is the FIRST thing in marketing any franchisee should know. Why did the brand start? What was the inspiration behind the brand and business? What makes us different and why? These are all important key factors to any brand and if the people on the bus don’t know your story, then franchisees and customers will make it up themselves.

  5. Loosen the leash. I’ve been guilty of having too tight of a leash when it comes to franchisees and what they are/are not allowed to do in terms of marketing. I learned my lesson and I’m here to say, give them parameters, guidelines and a fair amount of space to do what they know is best for their territory. As long as what they’re doing is on brand and the message is right, you need to give them the freedom to market themselves. Empower them and they will follow the rules.

  6. Give them the right tools. If you expect franchisees and employees to do the work themselves, you have to provide them with the right tools to do the work. No one wants to babysit. If you train them, do the work and keep things up to date, there’s little to no room for error. At 1-800-GOT-JUNK? we had a custom built intranet where all the latest marketing tools, and guidelines were available and accessible to all the franchisees so they had the power to handle marketing themselves.