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There are two objectives in franchise marketing. First, the franchise must establish a brand that will be recognized easily across its customer base. Consistent messaging is vital for a brand to become strong and recognizable. The franchise, therefore, must make clear decisions and rules about how its brand will be presented—and these rules must be followed by every franchisee and championed by the franchisor. [Click to tweet Tweet this]

Related: Franchise development—what you need to know

The next objective of franchise marketing is, unsurprisingly, to promote itself to customers. This is done through the standard practices used in most marketing campaigns: market research, customer profiling and competitor evaluation. Once this research is done and the franchise has developed a strong understanding of its intended audience, the franchisor can make good use of its marketing budget. Individual franchisees may also play a role (depending on the organization) by running localized ads & discounts or even through the appearance of their store.

Make 2019 a strong year by reviewing the best practices for franchise marketing—and the trends most likely to dominate. We'll touch on the practice of branding (and how to do it successfully), the various types of franchises (and how they market to their customers), and promising opportunities to open a new franchise in 2019. You'll also learn how new franchises can grab public attention and position themselves for success.

Achieving brand consistency

As we've said once already, brand consistency is crucial to the overall success of a franchise. If, for example, you're part of a burger franchise, you want customers to recognize each location as being affiliated with the others. This is good for you no matter which role you occupy in the franchise.

Franchisors spend their advertising budgets more effectively when they can promote every location with a single message. As for franchisees, adhering to brand standards helps them associate with the success of other franchise partners as well as the advertising provided by the corporate office.

There are several important ways to establish and maintain brand consistency.

  • Appearance. Customers who walk into your store will be reassured by seeing the same things they've seen at other locations. This includes your logo, the colors on the walls, staff uniforms, and even the fonts used in the menu. Most franchises encourage consistency in all these areas.
  • Product. When a franchise is successful, customers come in with the expectation that they can purchase a specific product, regardless of whether they've visited that specific location before. It is not, therefore, a good idea to deviate from the standard offerings of your franchise—unless localizing products is part of an overarching business strategy (see: McDonald's).
  • Customer experience. Whether online or in-store, every business develops a brand voice in which they speak to their customers. Employees should be expected to adopt this voice as well. Are your employees deferential, or are they more jocular? Do your customers expect to be served quickly, or do they come in for chit-chat as well? Whatever the vibe you project, it should be consistent across the franchise itself and your brand's online presence.

Marketing plans for various industries

When we talk about franchises, we could be referring to a number of industries. Franchise Business Review created a list of the 200 best franchises to invest in for 2019, and it covers a wide array of diverse businesses. Among the industries included on the list are:

  • Automotive
  • Business services
  • Cleaning & maintenance
  • Food service & restaurants
  • Home services
  • Real estate
  • Senior care
  • Sports & recreation
  • Travel & hospitality

Different industries require finely honed plans specific to the needs of their clientele. What follows here is a basic marketing outline that will help most franchises get started. Treat the plan like a guideline—a skeleton to add the meat of your industry's needs to.

  • Start with an event. If you're opening a restaurant, you might host a grand opening party. This could include special discounts & coupons for customers, giving them an opportunity to sample your food.
  • Encourage customer loyalty. Offer perks to customers who give you repeat business or recommend their family & friends to you. This is particularly valuable for a franchise. If you become the favorite hotel chain of a customer who tells his whole family, you could gain a lot of loyal business through word-of-mouth.
  • Build your social network. Social media isn't going away in 2019. Affiliate your franchise with other franchises under your brand, and find out what other owners are doing to promote their locations. Support each other—success for one is success for all.

Where to franchise in 2019

Where should you seek franchise opportunities in 2019? It's a complicated puzzle. You need to consider where your best financial future will be, but that's not a question that can be answered with certainty. No one knows what the future will look like in any given place. However, we can point to a few predictors.

Expansion is a fairly reliable way to forecast the economic growth of a city. If you're in doubt as to where to purchase a franchise, focusing on America's fastest-growing areas is a good place to start. Texas, Florida and California play host to several such cities, but they are scattered throughout the country, and it's likely you'll be able to find one near you.

Do your research before buying into a new franchise. Explore the economic trends of the past year in the franchise world. Businesses that have been performing successfully (and are trending upward) are a much safer bet than those on the way out, and their sales reports can tell you a lot. If a franchise has had a string of unsuccessful years (and no solid plan on how to turn things around), it's probably not a good idea to invest right now.

Make 2019 a year of new ventures. Market your franchise well and you'll attract new customers to your location, building a strong foundation for growth and success.

How can franchises maintain brand compliance across locations? Learn more in our complete guide to multi-location branding.

The complete guide to multi-location branding

Author Bio

Julia Schulte is the Marketing Director for Checker's and Rally's Franchising