Breaking into a new area, even with a well-established brand, means investing time and resources on a strong marketing strategy, advises Caroline Crabbe.
If you are to truly succeed as a master franchisee (regardless of external support) you, and only you, need to make it happen – and that means developing your own local marketing strategy from the outset. It’s true that any good franchisor will provide you with the adequate support and tools you’ll need to get your business off the ground, and in many cases you’ll take advantage of a fully functioning marketing programme, nationwide advertising campaigns, brand reputation and all that goes with that. But this doesn’t remove the requirement for you to market your own operation individually; ultimately this is your business and you are the only one who can make it a true success.
Running a successful franchise (like any other self-owned business) means hard work, commitment and having a genuine, relentless passion for what it is you are doing; marketing is part of that commitment. To market your business effectively takes time and resources, not to mention drive and focus – but if you have that get-up-and-go spirit and the motivation and self-discipline to run your own business, not to mention the backing of a strong brand, there’s no reason you shouldn’t make a success of your enterprise.
Here are a few tips on how to get your marketing programme moving:
Managing social media channels effectively takes time but here are some tips for posting effective business content online:
- Know your customer and your market – if you’ve invested in a franchise business, it goes without saying that you need to know who your audience is; but for real success, you’ll have to take that knowledge a step further.
- Develop your own audience character profiles – build a picture of what your audience looks like (and remember, there may be a few different types of demographic). Give them a name and a personality/ character; what do they look like, where do they shop, where do they live, how much do they earn, how many children do they have, what do they wear, where do they go and what do they like doing? This kind of information will help you to create a visual of exactly whom you are targeting – which will help you to plan your marketing activity more effectively and accurately.
- Adapt your marketing activity to local cultures and trends to make your business relevant to the audience you are targeting. If people identify with it, they are more likely to take notice. For instance, if you are taking out an advert in a local paper, where possible, link your content to local topical news or to the region itself for a more relevant hook.
- Make the most of the nationwide/ international marketing programme already in place for your business (this will usually be provided by the franchisor) but you should still expect to invest time and money in doing your own PR and marketing locally, too. It’s great to have instant appeal and recognition for your brand, but use that success as a platform to create more local exposure for you and your business and you’ll reap the rewards.
- Know your local media – find out what your local newspapers, magazines, local online news sites, TV and radio stations are. Do your research and keep in touch with local media on a regular basis ensuring you share any local news about your business. When dealing with the press avoid the ‘big sales pitch’ and instead focus on stories, angles and ideas that will resonate with the readers of the publication – journalists want good stories not adverts. PR can be time-consuming so sometimes it is worth engaging external support if you have a particular campaign you wish to promote.
- Invest in your customer base – once you’ve got them you need to keep them coming back, so consider running special promotions, loyalty programmes, referral rewards, giving away freebies, competitions, attending networking events, sponsoring local charities etc. This is a great way of attracting new customers and raising awareness of your business in the local area.
- Word of mouth – get your happy customers to tell others about their experience. Social media has given us the perfect platform for highlighting customer engagement today and that gives you a real opportunity to boost exposure for your business. We live in a culture today where people like to talk about the things they are doing; they like to share experiences, photos and videos so setting up your own social media channels (consistent with your franchisor’s policies) is vital from the outset.
- Ask for customer reviews and testimonials because this is a great way to shout about your success on social media platforms, websites etc. Most large franchises will have their own mainstream website but many are supportive of local-focused sites and social media pages too. Equally, join a local business committee to make contacts, spread the word about your business and share knowledge with other likeminded business people.
- Stay one step ahead – know who your local competitors are and keep your franchise alive through your own passion and determination. If you wake up every day and love what you do, you’re on your way to a successful business, because if you believe it, others will too.
1. KEEP IT REGULAR
There is little point having a Facebook or Twitter page if you aren’t going to engage regularly with your fans. Try to update your social media channels at least once every day.
2. KEEP IT TIMELY
Take the time to understand when the best time of day is to make your posts. When is your audience most likely to be online?
3. KEEP IT RELEVANT
It might be stating the obvious but, if most of your Facebook fans are mums with young children, there is little point posting updates about stocks and shares! Keep your posts relevant to show you understand who your audience is and what they are interested in.
4. KEEP IT FUN
Inject a sense of fun and humour into your posts. Videos and images can be a great way of driving engagement.
5. KEEP IT COLOURFUL
Your social media pages must be visually stimulating. Images, videos, posters and lots of colour will keep your fans interested.
6. KEEP IT SHORT
Don’t waste time writing reams of text on your posts. People are busy and they are more likely to switch off or move on to something else if a post is too long-winded. Around 60% of posts that are three lines or less get more likes and shares than those that are longer.
7. KEEP ON GIVING
Give something back to people via your posts. A bit of free advice, information, support or a new idea. How to guides, top tips – all of these things are useful and helpful to others.
8. KEEP THEM SHARING
Where possible try to include a ‘call to action’ post. If you ask your fans to share, like or comment, they are more likely to do so.
9. KEEP THEM COMING BACK FOR MORE
You want fans to return so where possible, always make sure your posts are thoughtprovoking, interesting, entertaining, funny, important or educational.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Caroline Crabbe is General Manager at Jo Jingles (www.jojingles.com), which provides music, singing and movement experience classes for babies and pre-school children from three months to five years of age. With nationwide sessions in more than 700 centres across the UK and Ireland and with over 90 franchisees, Jo Jingles offers well-established, structured classes that are fun, interactive and educational for little ones. For more details visit www.jojingles.com