BY BILL BRADLEY | January 23, 2013
Your franchise is a household name, so you can just sit back and wait for customers to roll in – right?
As you decide whether to invest in a franchise opportunity, it’s important to have a realistic understanding of the factors that lead to success. Marketing is certainly one of those factors. New franchisees are sometimes surprised to realize that they have the responsibility for marketing their new businesses.
Here’s what you need to understand before you make your decision:
Some things about marketing a franchise are completely different from marketing other businesses.
- The franchisor has a lot of control over your marketing. Often, franchisees are limited in the kind of marketing they can do. You probably can’t create your own website and in some cases you are limited in your options for social media. You may have to get approval for most marketing initiatives you want to undertake, up to and including submitting any ads for approval before they run.
- You may have instant name recognition. The average new business has to spend years building name recognition. The best franchises come with immediate positive reputations. Franchises like 7-11, Little Caesar’s, or Huntington Learning Center will have customers ready to buy before you even open. Even less well-known franchises may come with an instant “big business” look: a professional website, logo, and sales materials can earn trust right from the start.
- You may have lots of support. Depending on the franchisor, your franchise may have access to everything from sales training to TV spots. You often get copywriting services, national marketing that directs callers to you, and pre-made ads connected with the parent company’s national campaigns. Marketing advice and mentoring from experienced people in the company can be invaluable, saving you a lot of trial and error.
Some things about marketing a franchise are just the same as marketing other businesses.
- You’re responsible for your own marketing. Even if your franchisor is nationally known and you expect to have a ready-made group of customers who will flock to your location as soon as they know you’re in town – you still have to let them know that you’re in town. The best franchises provide a lot of support, but you’re still responsible for your results.
- You have to budget for marketing. Effective marketing requires an investment of time and money. The franchise brand may provide lots of support, but there are still lots of tasks that will fall to you. Identifying the best marketing channels, negotiating prices for broadcast media, making sure that ads are placed correctly, and tracking your results so you can optimize your marketing are all things you’ll have to do. If your franchise allows the use of social media, charity drives, and other local initiatives, you’ll have to do all the work associated with using them. All the costs of advertising and other marketing efforts will probably be paid by the franchisee, though your particular franchise opportunity might support some promotions.
- Marketing can take time to show results. A nationally-known franchise brand has a huge advantage over a small start-up, but marketing efforts still take time to show results. A rule of thumb in marketing is not to expect results in the first five months of a new marketing initiative – you may see results within a few days or weeks, but you shouldn’t count on them. Your prospects have to see your message 7 to 12 times before they take action, on average, and it takes time for that to happen, even if you’re doing everything right. Your parent company’s marketing efforts can give you a great boost, but you still can’t expect to be flooded with customers on the day you open.
You should have a marketing plan for your franchise business, just as any entrepreneur should. You can enjoy the advantages of having a franchise with a great company – just be sure you leverage those advantages well with a strong marketing plan.