I’ve worked with several different franchisees and each franchise is different when it comes to the level of support corporate provides -- especially when it comes to marketing. This is something you need to know BEFORE you commit to buying a franchise. Not knowing this may cause you to have to spend way more time than you expected — not just marketing your business — but learning how to effectively market your business.
Most franchises are brick-and-mortars and I’ll get to specific things locations need to do that a home-based franchise doesn’t.
Here are some questions you need to ask if you’re considering buying a franchise:
- Does corporate provide details social media/digital marketing guidelines? How can you use their logo, promotional graphics and videos? Basically, do’s and don’ts.
- If so, do they provide the cover graphics/branding banners sized properly for each of the networks? Each social network has different sized graphics and you can’t take the Facebook banner and stretch it to fit Twitter’s.
- Do they set up all the profile pages/accounts, or is this something you have to do? If you have to do it, do they provide tutorials? Remember, each network is different. The “about” sections vary in length from 150 characters (Pinterest) to 2000 characters (Facebook & LinkedIn). Do they provide the copy? Or do you have to grab it from either corporate’s profile pages or another franchisee?
- Are you able to blog on your website or is corporate the only one blogging — and how often are they publishing? This important because usually corporate’s blogs are very generic. If you have a specific local target market, then you’ll need to blog on your own. I recommend a free blog on WordPress.com with a link back to your franchisee page and a link from your website to the blog.
- Does corporate provide videos or are you going to have to produce them yourself? Can you do your own? It makes a big difference if you do your own and you plug your location. Do they provide guidelines or scripts?
- Do they provide training? This is important as not everyone knows how to effectively use social media, email and websites for marketing (not very tech savvy). How about scheduling tools like HootSuite or Buffer?
- Do they provide a marketing plan template? This is besides the guidelines. This is where you define YOUR target market. Yes, they probably have generic target market descriptions, but the target market in say, New Jersey, is going to be different from the target market in Arizona.
- How do you collect leads/email addresses? Where are they kept? What type of marketing automation system is available?
Let me give you a few of examples of franchisees I’ve worked with…
This one gentleman bought a non-medial, home-helper franchise. As a home-based business, he thought it would be easy to run especially being in the Phoenix Valley with so many retirees. Little did he know, he had competition and the competition was a bit more social media savvy. He wasn’t coming up on the first page of Google. Only corporate did the blogging and when he share their articles on social media, the links went to corporate’s website rather than his franchisee site. Thus, people contacted corporate rather than him and he didn’t always get the lead.
Corporate did set up his Facebook page. That’s it. They’d post occasionally to it with generic posts. Nothing about LinkedIn, Twitter or Pinterest.
He contacted me for 1:1 training. Problem is, he wasn’t very tech savvy and he couldn’t grasp what I was showing him. After a session, his brain would be fried and he didn’t practice what he we covered. By the time we had the next session, a week later, he forgot everything I taught him. It got to the point that I could not help him.
A couple with a similar franchise kept arguing on who was going to do what when it came to marketing — because after meeting with me and my doing a marketing plan for them, they divided up the tasks. Apparently, one of the two wasn’t pulling their weight and they eventually split up and dissolved the business.
Those are two of the sad stories. Here’s success story…
Growler USA – Craft Beer Pub – Opened September 2015 – North Phoenix
Growler USA is a franchise and they did get some help from their parent company with logos, a website and more. George and Melissa, the owners, knew they had to learn how to manage their own social media. While George runs the restaurant, Melissa does the marketing. While they were under construction, Melissa attended the first few classes of my Social Media Marketing Boot Camp, but she couldn’t finish it because she was helping George get everything ready. They hired me to help promote the pub for the grand opening.
Growler USA is unique because it features 100 taps of local craft beers. In fact, one of the “beertenders” coined the phrase “1 Stop Pub Crawl”. I immediately replied, “That’s a hashtag!” So #1StopPubCrawl became the main hashtag including #craftbeer, #brewpub, #100taps, etc.
I set up their social media pages at first with generic pictures that their HQ provided since they weren’t open yet. During their soft opening, I took lots of pictures and created the cover graphic collage they use now.
Pre-building a following on Facebook is hard if you don’t do paid advertising. On Twitter, however, it’s different. I went hunting for people who had #craftbeer in their profiles or tweeted about craft beer and they were local to the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas.
Usually it takes me 30 days to reach 100 followers of hunting and posting daily – about 90 minutes a day. For Growler USA it took me 2 weeks! Seems like the craft beer enthusiasts were eager to learn about yet another brew pub opening up.
I also started following the local craft brewers whose beer they would be serving. Most of them retweeted when I’d mention them in a tweet.
Over on Facebook, I did ‘Like’ the local brewers’ pages with their page as well as “tagging” or “mentioning” the breweries in “coming soon” posts.
At the end of September, their grand opening was indeed grand – jammed packed with people checking out the 100 taps.
Once I built their following, Melissa took over the daily social media management after she finished her training.
Why It’s Important to Get All the Information Up Front
I’m currently working with a startup who attended one of my SCORE classes. She was smart and contacted me way before even signing the lease. She’s opening a fitness studio. Similar to GrowlerUSA, she’s the first one in the Phoenix Valley.
The first thing I asked her was — does corporate provide a marketing plan template? They didn’t and she was losing sleep worring that she would open and no one would know she was there.
Corporate also told her that they’d set up a Facebook page for her. What about Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn? Guess not. She was on her own.
Supposedly, corporate has a social media agency that they work with, but she has no idea what service they actually provide. All she knows is that she has to pay corporate a certain amount each month for “marketing”.
I explained to her all the work that was involved. She wants to learn everything so that she can properly supervise her manager and staff when it comes to social media marketing.
How Local Brick-and-Mortars can Get Found on Google Maps
For locations that want people to come to their place of business, they have to set up a Google My Business account. This will literally put you on Google Maps. If not, when someone searches for (what your have to offer) “near me”, you won’t come up.
If you’re a brand new startup, you have to wait till you’ve signed the lease and you can receive mail at the location. That’s how Google verifies that you’re a location for maps. (For home-based businesses, you shouldn’t use this as your house will show on the map.)
Instagram now has location tagging. You need to set up a business account on a mobile device. Add your website and your location. When you or a customer shares a picture or video, it can be tagged with your location.
This is HUGE! Encourage customers to take pictures or videos with their phones then tag your business.
Same with checking in on Facebook. I have another local client (not a franchise) who overcame the Facebook algorithm change by offering customers an “extra” if they checked in on Facebook. When other businesses lost reach on their Facebook business pages, they gained.
I recommend you learn as much as you can BEFORE you buy a franchise.