According to the International Franchise Association, its newly released 2023 Franchising Economic Outlook report finds that franchise unit and job growth continues to outpace pre-pandemic levels, despite economic challenges and uncertainty. It’s no wonder that becoming a franchise owner has become an increasingly popular option among entrepreneurs and those looking to leave the corporate world. Franchising has long been a proven path for aspiring business owners with a tested and proven business model, as well as a support system to help you succeed. With franchise ownership, comes the need to understand and deliver effective marketing, but where to start?
Ray Kroc, McDonald’s Founder/Fast Food Innovator, said it best, “Look after the customer and the business will take care of itself.” This business is all about people. You have to be able to adapt, evolve and ignite areas of the business with customers always being at the forefront of decisions being made. If done correctly, marketing can result in endless opportunities for growth and expansion and if you're looking to succeed in franchise marketing, it's important to understand the strategies and techniques that can help you stand out in a customer-driven competitive market. So what does it take to crack the code to effective franchise marketing and grow your business to new heights?
First, you must focus on building a solid brand identity. What’s your brand story? As a franchisee, you benefit from a compelling storytelling component to help build your brand equity in your respective markets and to your audiences. People connect with brands they resonate with and are influenced by. Once that’s been established, focus on continuously creating a unique customer experience that's memorable and fulfilling, invest in building your social media channels to engage with your target audience, encourage word-of-mouth marketing, and never underestimate the power of targeted marketing through local store marketing (LSM) activations. By doing so, you can attract and retain customers in a competitive market and strengthen your brand persona along the way. Let’s break this down further.
Build a Strong Brand Identity:
Crafting a clear message that resonates with your audience and consistently delivers on your promises through marketing creates trust and loyalty among customers, leading to repeat business and increased revenue. Your branding efforts must remain consistent across all touchpoints, from your website and social media profiles to your customer service interactions. By building a strong brand identity, you can establish a
meaningful connection with your audience and position your business for long-term success.
Create Unique Customer Experiences:
Creating a unique and memorable customer experience is a critical piece in building brand loyalty. These experiences can be accomplished through providing exceptional service that goes above and beyond expectations, ensuring an inviting atmosphere, making each interaction feel tailored to the individual customers and even providing innovative menu offerings. You can leave a lasting impression on your customers by creating unique and memorable experiences for each customer, fostering loyalty and ensuring a strong reputation in your community.
Leverage Social Media:
By building a strong online presence and sharing engaging content, and photos that elicit emotion, you can attract new customers and keep existing ones coming back for more. This can be a powerful way to reach and engage your target audience. Consider special promotions or incentives to encourage customers via your social media channels to visit your restaurant and become loyal followers.
Embrace the Power of Word-of-Mouth Marketing:
Encouraging your most enthusiastic customers to spread the word about their experience can be valuable in building your brand and attracting new customers. When customers hear positive things about your product or service from their friends or family members, they are more likely to trust and choose you over your competitors. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews and referrals, and consider incentivizing them with discounts or rewards. Partnering with local influencers or community organizations can also help expand your reach. By focusing on these key areas, your restaurant franchise can succeed and stand out in a competitive market.
Engage in Local Targeting:
Finally, each restaurant must be able to cater to the specific needs and interests of its local community. Local store marketing (LSM) is one of the most impactful ways for restaurant brands to connect with customers. This means tailoring marketing campaigns and activations to local events, holidays, and product launches through street teams and boots-on-the-ground support. It’s an incredible way to build brand sparks and emotionally engage with the community to introduce your brand’s story, products and services.
Laura Murphy is Senior Vice President at Bolt PR, a leading integrated PR and Digital agency with locations across the U.S. Laura has extensive QSR marketing and PR experience representing brands such as McDonalds, Chick-fil-A, Yogurtland and Chuy’s Tex Mex.