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If you’re managing one of the millions of companies involved in franchising, chances are you’ve heard of franchise advertising. With franchise opportunities significantly expanding over the past several decades, advertising and marketing specifically aligned to this unique business model have become critical to franchise development.
According to recent statistics, more than 750,000 franchise establishments existed in the United States alone — a 50 percent increase from 2017. That means companies that use franchising as their business format make up a significant segment of various industries, including specialty food stores, hotels, car dealerships, restaurants, weight loss centers, electronics stores, and tutoring establishments.
Through effective franchise advertising strategies and the strength of a solid franchise brand, franchisors and franchisees can successfully compete for customers in their respective industries.
First, let’s review some basic definitions. An entrepreneur that uses a franchise as a business model is often described as a franchisee. This individual (or a group of individuals) adopts franchising as a method of providing services or selling products that involves a franchisor — a person or company who has established all the foundational aspects of a company. These areas can include the trade name, logo, business system, and brand standards to develop support and training guidelines.
As part of these arrangements, the franchisee enters into a contract with the franchisor so that the franchisee can start operating under the franchise brand. This legally binding contract technically is defined as a franchise. However, many people use it interchangeably to describe the business that the franchisee operates.
So, to summarize, a franchisor is defined as an owner or business that, through a license, allows other individual entrepreneurs to operate under the brand name that it already has established, selling the same products and/or services. A franchisee is an individual owner that has purchased a license to sell the franchisor’s products and/or services. A franchise is a business agreement between the franchisor and the franchisee.
With this business model, a franchisor can sell numerous licenses to franchisees in various locations. Typically, the franchisor will issue these licenses to franchisees with the understanding that each franchisee granted a license will operate in different markets to avoid a situation in which they are competing for the same customers.
Franchise marketing is a type of marketing strategy that reflects the unique arrangement between a franchisor and a franchisee. Individually and collaboratively, the franchisor and franchisee will use franchise marketing — a mix of marketing strategies and tactics — to increase brand awareness, attract new customers, and drive sales.
One of the goals of a franchise marketing strategy is to maintain cohesiveness across all the individual businesses under the franchisor’s umbrella. This ensures that no matter where customers encounter advertising related to the brand, it will still look familiar, no matter the location. For this reason, a franchisor typically will require that a franchisee adheres to previously established marketing guidelines to ensure brand consistency.
In many cases, the franchisor will financially invest in advertising for the brand overall but will expect franchisees to pay for any advertising specific to their local stores. Franchisees may be required to pay a percentage of their profits to the franchisor to support advertising of the brand nationally or internationally. This is a common expectation since all advertising on behalf of the brand can support local advertising efforts.
Since franchisees can combine their advertising dollars, their franchise marketing efforts can be more impactful and cost-effective.
An effective franchise marketing strategy consists of various franchise marketing channels, including paid, free, digital, and traditional. You can consider a franchise marketing strategy as an overarching game plan to reach consumers in the many ways they like to communicate and connect with brands.
With advances in technology, digital marketing for franchises has become one of the leading methods for a franchise to increase brand awareness, reach customers, and boost sales. Internet and social media usage have led to that trend. Globally, internet users were spending an average of 147 minutes on social media (https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/average-daily-time-on-social-media) in 2022 — up from 145 minutes a day, according to a survey. Another study (https://www.uswitch.com/mobiles/screentime-report/) revealed that Americans were spending an average of 1,300 hours. By implementing digital and social media marketing, franchise owners can significantly increase their visibility.
However, a franchise marketing strategy can vary widely, depending on the industry. For example, a franchise in the restaurant industry may design a significantly different marketing plan than one in the electronics industry. Each franchise marketing strategy should be customized to meet the needs of the targeted audiences.
Understanding your ideal customers on a personal level—their needs, wants, and aspirations—is key to building a franchise marketing strategy that resonates with them.
According to Gartner (https://www.gartner.com/en/marketing/glossary/marketing-channel), a marketing channel is defined as “the people, organizations, and activities that make goods and services available for use by consumers. It transfers the ownership of goods from the point of production to the point of consumption.”
A franchise marketing channel, therefore, is specific to the unique structure of a franchise relationship. For many franchises, a franchise marketing channel can include email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, brand advocacy, offline advertising, online advertising, SEO (search engine optimization), and partnership marketing.
Through franchise marketing channels, companies can support the overall goal to connect with and influence the people who fit the profile of their ideal customers.
To get a better understanding of effective franchise marketing, many franchisors and franchisees review franchising case study examples or a franchise sales and advertising sample for inspiration.
A quick search on an online search engine can reveal various franchising examples and marketing approaches based on industry.
Starbucks repeatedly is held up as having some of the best franchise ads and best franchise marketing campaigns, regardless of industry. As a franchisor, the Seattle-based company ensures that its franchisees around the world are cohesive in their marketing campaigns yet are effective for their local audiences.
During the winter season, for example, franchise ad copies will all reflect the distinct Starbucks brand and feel but they will be personalized based on location. A Starbucks ad in sun-drenched Miami, for example, may have a markedly different approach than one in Chicago, where sub-zero temperatures are common. Likewise, locations around the world — from Costa Rica and Japan to Paris and China — will appeal to their distinct local markets.
Other franchise marketing examples include those by UPS Store, a franchising network that has launched some of the most creative and best franchise ads in recent years. One memorable UPS ad includes an image of a dumbbell wrapped in brown paper along with the tagline “Does not fit? We still ship!” A subsequent UPS franchise advertisement picked up on the same theme during the NFL season with an object that looks like the Lombardi trophy wrapped in brown paper.
The UPS franchise also highlights the fact that it provides more than shipping as a service in another ad. To emphasize the point, the franchise advertisement tagline reads, “We know document services like the back of a full-color double-sided 32-page business proposal printed on 28-lb, uncoated paper stock with a laminated cover and coil binding.”