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Can franchises make good digital marketing agency clients? There are almost 750,000 of them in the US alone, employing some 9 million Americans. Chances are good you’ll have the opportunity to market a business with this specialized model at some point. In this structure:
The Franchisor grants permission to others to operate under its trademark, selling approved goods and services supported by an operating system and marketing.
The Franchisee is the person or group paying the franchisor for the right to use the trademark and the benefits of the operating system and marketing.
Seems simple enough. But it’s this structure that gives franchise marketing its unique complexities. For your agency, the challenge is that you can’t enter these marketing relationships equipped solely with your knowledge of corporate or local search marketing.
You need to deeply understand the setup to avoid bewilderment over why implementation bogs down with franchise clients and why players lose track of their roles, or even overwrite one another’s efforts.
In this post, we’ll give you some quick and useful coaching on the franchise model, but if your agency just got a phone call from Orangetheory or Smoothie King, you can get the bigger playbook right away.
Roles and goals make franchises unique clients
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Imagine a post-game locker room scene. On the field, all players seemed united by the goal of winning. But now, at different press conferences, the owner is saying the coach failed to meet standards, the coach is saying the owner should keep his opinions to himself, and several of the star players are saying they didn’t get the ball enough.
Franchises can be just like that when there’s confusion over roles and goals. Read on to get a peek into the playbook we’ve prepared to help the team as a whole work better together:
This post is excerpted from our new primer: The Practical Guide to Franchise Marketing.
Franchise marketing is a unique kind of activity. It does share a lot of qualities with corporate marketing (on the awareness side) and with SMB marketing (on the local side) but as we noted earlier, it’s sort of a joint custody arrangement that — like all custody arrangements — can get contentious at times.
Everyone wants the best for the brand, but everyone’s “best” is very much a matter of their own perspective and goals. Typically in this arrangement, there are at least two stakeholders, though sometimes there are more. The stakeholders and their goals tend to play out as follows:
Corporate Franchisor goals
- Creating a strong brand to license more franchisors.
- Controlling that brand so it isn’t negatively impacted.
- Supporting franchisees with strong branding and resources so they succeed.
Master Franchisor goals
- Working with corporate to protect the brand.
- Licensing more local franchisors.
- Supporting franchisees with resources so they succeed.
Regional or Area Franchisee goals
- Driving customer traffic and revenue at individual locations.
- Growing their portfolio of locations.
- Supporting location managers with resources so they succeed.
Owner/Operator Franchisee goals
- Increasing location(s) foot traffic.
- Increasing location(s) revenue.
- Building customer loyalty at the location(s).
In what ways is franchise marketing different from corporate or standard SMB marketing? There are some unique challenges that franchisors and franchisees face which are worth unpacking. Some of them are:
- Conflicting goals between franchisor/franchisee
- Faster turnover of locations and addresses
- Different opening hours, menus and promotions from location to location
- Unique local sales and marketing opportunities and challenges
- Competitors on both the brand side but also among local SMBs
- Lack of clearly defined marketing roles causing work to be overwritten, duplicated, or even neglected
Getting your agency’s head in the game
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Your agency can be a better coach to franchises by having a playbook that respects how they differ from corporate or SMB clients at the very outset. But differences don’t have to equal weaknesses. Are you ready to draft a game plan that draws from the strengths of both franchisors and franchisees?