By Natalie Veli

To market your franchise successfully it is essential to determine who the ideal franchisee will be and where you would find them.  Each franchise needs to develop a marketing plan to suit their unique requirements and to adhere to brand and corporate identity guidelines/standards. 

This article focusses on the most essential elements of marketing your franchise opportunities to find franchisees.  

1.  Advertising

Advertising basically means getting your message about your franchise out there through paid for space. A franchisor needs to create a range of promotional material/content to entice further interest

It includes any media that allows you to purchase space to promote, such as:

  • Print, e.g. magazines and newspapers
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Billboards
  • Websites
  • Sponsored social media platforms
  • Google, and so much more

A franchise’s call to action is not just a ‘call now’, we prefer to intrigue prospects with brief benefits of owning the franchise and get them to read more information before ‘calling now’, however, engaging through email and sometimes an application form is how things are dealt with. Additional benefits can be communicated through an introductory pamphlet or high-level prospectus providing information on what the franchise has to offer.

Franchisors need to follow up good leads received from various platforms within the quickest possible timeframe.  The expense of marketing opportunities will be worthless if not followed through properly

2. Direct Mail

According to Neil Patel, SEO Guru, direct mail gives you more bang for your buck than paid search and online display ads. Direct mail can target your potential franchisee audience better than you might think and it is cost effective, if not, free. Provided you stick to POPI . Direct mail via a mailing system is also trackable by allowing you to check who clicked on links to e.g. your website or on a specific article. On mailing systems, you can check who read your mail, who unsubscribed and who clicked on what, and how many times they clicked. What is great is that it increases your brand awareness and it’s for all age groups (that have an email account) and you can be as creative as you like.

With the onset of technology, other direct mail options are:

  • E-newsletters,
  • Drip email campaigns (a series of email messages sent to a prospect over a short period of time) and
  • Other opt-in alternatives that send information via email.

3. Events

A prospective franchisee needs to have the information about the franchise presented to them so that they can understand it, gauge the advantages and disadvantages and inevitably make the right decision. Types pf events in the franchise world break down into the following sub-categories:

  • Person-to-person, that you might experience at an exhibition, seminar or other discovery experience that the franchisor participates in. It is important as a franchisor to have a selected internal franchise recruitment specialist who is trained in the entire franchise process so this person can present the opportunity to the prospective franchisee effectively, answer questions and manage objections.
  • Technology has expanded the event process. Email, texts, webinars, web presence and online franchise advertising platforms, such as www.whichfranchise.co.za are as much a part of the franchise events as any traditional event marketing method, if not more effective.

4. Promotions

In order to assist your brand and franchise network, promotions can be utilised, however we don’t recommend this for actually looking for franchisees.

Traditionally promotions have been used to trigger awareness and interest in a marketing message. You’ve seen promotions like midnight madness sales, 24-hour sales, giveaways, special events, customer appreciation discounts – or any kind of special, out-of-the-ordinary promotion that’s utilised by various companies to attract new buyers or existing buyers back again.

Franchisors should use a mix of traditional sales mediums and ones that utilise technology. For example, they may hold some type of promotion advertised in traditional media such as print, billboards, radio, and TV while also running the promotion on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. The internet options have given franchisors a low-investment way to reach masses of prospective franchisees, allowing the smaller brand franchises to compete favourably with the bigger brands.

5. Public Relations

A franchisor always needs to announce store openings and newsworthy events.  The opening of new franchised stores presents an ideal opportunity to get PR exposure as part of the launch. Another PR angle would be to reflect on the industry the franchise is conducted in, can you as the franchisor offer interesting news or data to obtain coverage for the brand.

Public Relations may be the most underused method of marketing. In the internet age, we have found that public relations is still a very feasible method that needs consideration. However, the delivery has changed considerably, and in some ways, technology has made it far simpler to launch a lucrative PR campaign.

Today, franchisors like the ability to release their newsworthy articles via blogs and on industry and business blog platforms. This is where Public Relations differs to advertising, in most cases this is free, and the more creative and informative the articles are, the more traffic they will draw. This method is also measurable since the analytics can be evaluated.

6. Online Marketing

Many franchisors are still not that au fait with online marketing – this gives new franchisors with strong online marketing skills an advantage. Marketing and media options used to be awfully expensive, and the new emerging franchisors were priced out of the competition. The internet has now levelled the playing field because the barriers of entry are lower, giving creativity and not big marketing budgets, the advantage.

Potential franchisees are going straight to online to do their research on available franchise opportunities as well as looking for online information portals, such as www.whichfranchise.co.za, as well as doing Google searches on the franchise in itself to find out all they need to know. It’s crucial to have a good online presence with relevant information on the opportunity.

Professional video clips on the franchise (posted on the franchise’s website and YouTube or social media platform e.g. Facebook, Instagram etc.) offer a high visual impact and lasting impression.  This is a very useful tool to introduce the support team, outlet tours, launches etc.

Social media platforms are affordable marketing tools that can strengthen a franchise’s marketing plan and have beyond proven to be more than just a passing craze. Franchise’s should take full advantage of social media as a platform to reflect the brand’s character. It is, however, imperative to understand that social media involves long-term maintenance, by replying to interaction and messages and building of relationships by keeping in touch on a regular basis. Don’t forget your #hashtags in your social media posts – these help the search functions within the specific platform.

7. Website

A definite must have is a website. Without a website these days, you don’t exist. Firstly, this is where people will go to, to get an initial introduction to your franchise brand. On your website, ensure that you have an easily obtainable contact form for visitors and potential franchisees to respond or enquire to find out more. Recruitment has completely shifted to online platforms, at least initials stages and so this is unquestionably a must have. It is best to answer frequently asked questions about your franchise opportunity on your website so that you don’t get time wasters enquiring. Have the brief of your franchise laid out for them to read but don’t give it all away. This should be enticing information.

Google is where the world flocks to for information and without a presence there, where are you? In order to show up on search engines you’d need to incorporate a few tactics and it is worth investing in some experts to assist you. Tools that can help you are Google Adwords and Search Engine Optimisation on your website. There are a lot of online tracking tools available to help you measure the success of this marketing approach.

8. Disclosure Document 

The disclosure document is a legal document required by the consumer protection act but it can be used as a promotional tool for franchisees.  Potential franchisees will only have access to this document after the franchisee has handed in the initial application form and confirmation thereof has been proven successful, e.g. credit and reference checks, proof of funds have been verified as well as having an initial meeting. This offers a franchisor the chance to promote the franchise offering with a combination of fact, interesting information and transparent disclosure on essential information that will enable a franchisee to make an informed decision. Franchising Plus offers compiling a CPA Compliant Disclosure Document Service.

9. Word of Mouth

Word of mouth is of course the best method, a true, objective view and it sells franchises. Franchisees are your most important representatives for franchise opportunities.  It is imperative that your current franchisees are getting sufficient support, training and run a profitable business to happily promote the franchise to interested parties.

Take Note:

We believe that a franchise opportunity is granted to worthy applicants, it should not be a persuasive type of sale to potential franchisees that hardly meet your criteria. Hang on and wait for franchisees who will share your enthusiasm and excitement for the business and your dedication to success.