What Franchises Should Look For In a Marketing Firm

Reaching customers (and potential franchisees) is part art, part science. Three industry vets offer advice on finding a marketing and social media firm that strikes the right balance.


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June 2019

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1. Think holistically

From Kenny Wu, director of corporate marketing, Scorpion

Franchisors are concerned with brand awareness and cohesion, but franchisees see marketing as just a small slice of their daily to-dos and are hyperfocused on performance. Both sides can be made happy…but it means a lot of careful planning, and no rogue franchisee campaigns! The ideal strategy: Build a playbook that broadens and deepens brand awareness, while also developing localized, brand-compliant tactics to help franchisees stand out in their neighborhoods.

To pull all this off, franchisors should shop around for a holistic marketing agency that works in different channels — not just search engine ads but also social media, email advertising, remarketing, and video marketing. It’s an approach that goes beyond low-hanging fruit, and instead helps franchisees reach their ideal customers wherever they’re already spending time on the internet.

When you’re interviewing agencies, ask to see successful case studies featuring franchises, and beware of anyone who makes guarantees; an agency promising x number of leads for x number of dollars can often mean exaggerated leads and short-term focus. Once you do sign a contract, stay on top of the results. You’ll want your agency to walk you through the numbers every month and provide transparent reporting. Be patient at first — it can take a few months for marketing efforts to ramp up — but if you’re still not seeing an ROI, it’s time to revisit the agency or plan.

Related: 5 Recession-Resistant Franchise Sectors You Should Consider During an Economic Downturn

2. Build a strong foundation 

From Charlie Kerr, president, Drama Kids International

Drama Kids is an after- school theater program with 307 global franchisees. To boost business, in 2017, it hired SocialJoey, a Tennessee firm that could…

a. Work independently.  

SocialJoey spoke directly with franchisees to understand Drama Kids’ concept and challenges, freeing the franchise’s corporate office to focus on its own tasks. “It requires less and less of my time to manage the account,” Kerr says. 

b. Create quality content. 

Drama Kids needed to catch the attention of its core audience: parents of kids ages 4 through 17. SocialJoey hit refresh on the brand’s social media accounts with posts linking to articles on topics like springtime activities for families, and kid-friendly slow-cooker recipes. “Any brand that simply bombards parents with ‘Enroll now’ messaging will lose them as an audience very quickly,” Kerr says. “You need to entice customers to keep coming back to your site.” 

Related: 23 Questions to Ask a Franchisor When You Meet Face to Face

c. Understand what works. 

To boost enrollment numbers, SocialJoey ran ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram, tracked how many ad clicks led to new customers, and adjusted to optimize for paid sign-ups. Says Kerr: “The results skyrocketed.”

3. Unexpected success

From Andrew Pudalov, founder and CEO, Rush Bowls

What he expected: Pudalov, founder of blended-fruit-bowl chain Rush Bowls, wanted a branding strategy to attract new franchisees. When he hired Denver-based firm RainTree in 2016, he expected it to do just that. 

What he got: RainTree didn’t just generate leads; it shaped Rush Bowls’ story in a way that built relationships with franchisees. “They created a connection, one that makes sure the partnership is a right fit,” Pudalov says. The brand jumped from two to 101 locations in development.

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