How to Better Support Restaurant Franchisees' Marketing Needs

    If franchisors don't pass down the right creative material, operators can go rogue and create content that isn't approved. 

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    At a time when budgets are tight, it is critical that franchises and franchisees align on more efficient, effective creative development methodologies.

    Marketing and advertising can cause significant friction within franchise organizations. The typical franchisee contributes anywhere from 2 percent to 12 percent of their budget to advertising, but they don’t always get what they need in return. There could be issues with localizing the creative handed down from corporate, a lack of air-cover for franchisees that fall outside of high-traffic regions, or formats and designs that aren’t flexible enough to work across digital and offline channels.

    When franchisees don’t get the right creative, they can “go rogue,” creating content that isn’t approved, doesn’t follow brand guidelines, and doesn’t meet channel best practices.

    Franchise organizations that develop flexible, insight-driven creative that can be easily leveraged by franchisees, will ultimately drive success locally and at the corporate level. 

    Creative Compliance is Harder Than Ever

    With today’s customer moving across TV, streaming, mobile, and online media, a typical franchise owner needs a far more flexible set of creatives than ever before. Gone are the days of billboards, TV commercials and yellow pages. In fact, even display ads and search aren’t enough to keep franchisees in front of potential customers. Today, strategic local advertising mixes include Facebook and Instagram, TikTok, Snap, Search, Video and CTV, all requiring different creative formats and formulas. And let’s not forget the “Mere-Exposure Effect,” the psychological phenomenon showing the impact of familiarity on consumer behavior.  

    If a franchisor is providing rigid creative assets that can’t be repurposed for these channels, it opens the door for franchisees to develop their own creative. If maintaining consistency is important to a franchise brand, rogue marketing and advertising can become a major headache. What’s more, if there is overlap between franchise brand advertising and local franchisee advertising, customers can also come away with mixed or even conflicting messaging, which can hurt overall sales growth. 

    Franchise organizations and their local franchisees can be at odds in the following ways:

    Standardized creative: Efficient franchise brands have mastered the art of standardization across their franchisees—but that conflicts with the true nature of good creative, which needs to be tailored for specific audiences, platforms and locations.  

    Brand consistency: At a national or regional level, brand consistency is important in generating consumer recall and loyalty, ensuring the brand maintains its competitive advantage. In fact, Marigold’s 2023 Consumer Trends Index highlighted that 72 percent of U.S. consumers say they are prepared to pay more to purchase from their prepared brands. While brand consistency is critical, franchisees should have a certain level of autonomy to create a closer connection with their customers or tailor advertising for local tastes. This is supported by Acquia’s finding that 75 percent of Americans say they’re more likely to be loyal to brands that understand them on a personal level. 

    Risk management: Franchises want oversight to ensure that creative adheres to brand guidelines, channel best practices, and other advertising regulations (such as legal requirements for Financial Services ads), but this can slow things down for franchisees, who might have to wait days or weeks to get approval. 

    Supporting The Need for Flexible Creative

    One approach that can help franchisees is to develop a set of creative assets that is much more flexible to fit a number of different format requirements. Different elements that can be mixed and matched, reformatted and cut down—to as short as six seconds—will help franchisees get their name out while still using approved creative. A new advancement in creative technology allows franchises to test unique creative elements and deliver those proven building blocks to their franchisees. In this way, franchises provide a more flexible portfolio that will deliver positive results. 

    Another critical element of success is to work through processes and creatives to ensure that all franchisees get the support they need as efficiently as possible. For example, by training on brand guidelines and requirements up front, and providing reminders with each new set of creative, out-of-compliance creative volume goes down. Similarly, using a quick and efficient approval system gives franchisees more confidence in the franchise and they’re more likely to seek approval than if they know they’ll be waiting forever to get the "OK."

    Franchise businesses are also starting to lean on technology partners for help. Franchises are starting to use digital asset management software to create a more efficient delivery process. Brand compliance technology can be used to review millions of creative assets in the wild and identify any issues with logo use, colors, wording and image use. And AI can help develop creative versions across different platforms much more quickly so that franchises can provide a much richer portfolio of assets less expensively. 

    At a time when budgets are tight, it is critical that franchises and franchisees align on more efficient, effective creative development methodologies. Even though the world of creative has gotten more complicated, delivering a more flexible portfolio or proven assets and a more efficient creative process can help franchisees stay within brand guidelines and develop successful campaigns for their audience. 

    Talia Wachtel is the Head of Client Success at VidMob where she leads the global team responsible for client success, creative services and strategic services. Prior to VidMob, Talia spent 10 years at Australian ad-tech startup, Tiger Pistol, leading client management teams in Melbourne, Australia and moving to the US in 2016 to help grow their presence in the Americas, ultimately resulting in a successful acquisition in 2019. Talia has extensive experience working with global brands and SMB resellers to generate meaningful business results from digital marketing and technology enabled solutions through her expertise in the productization, go-to-market and operational fulfillment of scalable digital advertising services.

    Originally from Australia, Talia now lives in Austin, Texas. She is passionate about the intersection of art and science, and believes that good advertising can drive meaningful, positive, change in the world. She holds a Bachelors’ Degree from Monash University where she majored in Marketing and Human Resources.