4 budget franchisee marketing tips

By Nick Hall | 25 Nov 2019 View comments

If you’ve just taken on a new franchise business, chances are the learning curve will be steep. While picking up the systems and adapting to the rigid format can be difficult, more often than not, the most feared element in any new business is franchisee marketing.

It can be a long journey from signing the agreement to opening day, however, once the doors are open, the real work begins.

Knowing how to get customers through the door is a skill in itself, and while your franchisor will likely provide marketing support through a national or local marketing fund, the onus is still on you.

However, franchisee marketing doesn’t have to mean big budgets and complex tactics.

“You can sustain your brand presence with an affordable strategy plan that uses effective yet low cost tools,” Melissa Haywood, head of printing and marketing solutions company Vistaprint Australia.

“Handing out flyers, ensuring banners and signage are visible on the street, and rewarding customers with branded merchandise are all tried-and-tested ways of engaging with customers. These methods can also spread powerful word-of-mouth recommendations and build loyal customer relationships.”

We spoke the national leader on how new business owners can stay front of mind with her top four franchisee marketing tips.

1. Rely on advocacy

While the marketing landscape has evolved significantly over time, with the introduction of social media and influencer tools, the old ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing still has merit.

“Positive customer experiences are one of your best marketing tools,” Haywood reveals. “Word-of-mouth recommendations will help drive new customer acquisition.”

To encourage new customer acquisition, Haywood suggested implementing a strategy that rewards advocacy, either through digital channels or in print.

“To turn customer advocacy into your best performing marketing channel, you should encourage and track referrals through an incentivised refer-a-friend strategy. You can harness electronic direct mail (EDM) and brochures to spread loyalty promotions and build a customer database.”

2. Engage with customers

The key to surviving as a small business owner is creating a dedicated and loyal customer base. After all, without customers, there is no business, and it’s no surprise that it is far cheaper to retain a customer than it is to find a new one.

Haywood suggested that new market implementations such as social media provide the perfect platform for engagement, and better yet, they are free to operate.

“Make sure you repost and interact with your customers’ user-generated content (like their posts, comments and reviews) to grow your online brand presence and solidify your customer relationships on social media,” she said.

3. Incentivise reviews

In today’s digital world, reviews can make or break a business. Having a positive online review can build your presence, but by the same token, a negative review can hit a local operator hard.

A key element of franchisee marketing is controlling your online marketplace. Even if you don’t offer e-commerce solutions, your website and Google Reviews page is your online shopfront, it pays to keep it clean.

Haywood said one of the hardest things to do is get customers who have had a positive experience to share their story online. One way to combat this is to offer incentives for reviews, it could be as simple as a free cup of coffee next visit.

“If you don’t have a social media platform, incentivise and inspire existing customers to spread their positive experiences about your franchise on their networks. For example, incentives can come in the form of discounted services or branded merchandising,” she said.

4. Tailor your email strategy

One of the cheapest and most effective franchisee marketing strategies is email marketing.

It’s hardly a new premise, but over the past few years, email marketing is steadily grown in popularity, due to its fast rate of delivery and data retention capabilities. Haywood said that getting started with email marketing was a great step, however, advised that sending out messages sporadicly could actually damage your brand.

“Email marketing has not only survived the digital revolution, but has become one of the most promising marketing tools of the modern era,” she said.

“Hone in on a tailored email strategy. Marketing is not a ‘one-time’ fix and investing money now and again into campaigns may in fact create disjointed brand messaging.”

Franchisee marketing advice

Whether you are just about to fling open the doors to your very first business, or you’ve been running an operation for several years, franchisee marketing is critical to securing sales.

The key to franchisee marketing on a budget is staying true to your core. Understand who your customers are, what makes them tick and ask them for their advocacy. After all, the best customer is the one who brings their friends.

“Remember, marketing is essential in making sure new and returning customers know about your brand’s key messages and USPs,” Haywood said.

Melissa Haywood has almost 20 years’ experience managing email, website, display marketing, search marketing and social media. In her role as head of Vistaprint in Australia, she applies all her skills to the exciting world of customised products, helping everyday Australians grow their own businesses successfully, no matter the size.