Successful franchisees know that they can’t leave all the marketing efforts to the franchise corporate office. When you think about which franchise business opportunity to choose, you should consider what kind of marketing strategies will work for each franchise you consider, and what resources you have in those areas.
One type of marketing that can be very successful is community involvement: sponsoring and participating in community events.
We spoke with a franchisee — we’ll call him Todd — who decided to make this type of franchising his focus. He recognized that his franchise benefits from the national advertising the franchise does, and he also does some print and broadcast ads.
But his involvement in community affairs, he says, is completely different. People see ads, they recognize that it’s advertising and respond to it as advertising. When people see his franchise supporting community events, they see it as support for the community they live in.
“When you’re spending time on a Saturday with your kids, outside, doing something fun,” Todd said, “the presence of a business goes much deeper. I’m constantly hearing people say, ‘I love the fact that I see you guys at the things that I enjoy doing.’ And they know that those dollars go back to the community that you’re serving as well.”
This company reaches out to active, sports-minded people, so he sponsors sporting events most often.
How can you identify opportunities in your community?
- Think about the kinds of causes your customers will care about. Though most people will relate to charities supporting animals or children, there are causes that will be much more controversial. Think of it from your target market’s point of view.
- Check community calendars to see upcoming public events. Most will want sponsors.
- Google “sponsor application” and add the name of your town. You can often see the minimum sponsorship opportunities for upcoming events.
- Watch for “in-kind” opportunities. While providing services is not tax-deductible, providing products often is. Check with your accountant.
- Check with public events to see whether you can provide swag (promotional items such as pens, T-shirts, or water bottles) and literature (brochures, etc.) for their event. Often these items will be stuffed into bags and given to participants.
- Look for tables at trade shows and expositions. The cost can vary from $50 to $1,000 or more, and you will usually need to provide people to staff a table or booth.
- Join organizations supporting cause that you (and your customers) find appealing. Then watch for opportunities to be visible. Wearing your company polio shirt while volunteering can create visibility.
- Check out matchmaking sites for sponsors, like SponsorMyEvent.com.
- Some franchisors have ready-made community involvement opportunities which are already part of their culture.
Once you’ve scouted around, you’ll know whether the franchise business opportunity you’re considering will fit with local events. For many franchise businesses, it’s a great way to meet new customers.
“We ask our customers where they heard of us, and a lot of people say they see us at events,” Todd said. “It helps to develop the relationships that bring us loyal customers.”