Part 3 of BlastPoint’s IFA Roundtable Roundup Series: Am I Adequately Investing in PR?

Billboards, Facebook ads, press releases, direct mailers, Instagram stories, targeted newsletters, LinkedIn articles…

Overwhelmed yet?

Creating and executing a killer marketing strategy is no small feat, and it requires a lot of moving parts. But franchisors need to embrace public relations with gusto, or risk customer disengagement and deteriorated trust.

Don Daszkowski at TheBalanceSMB.com explains that a franchise system’s marketing strategy has to nail two objectives: “to build a strong brand and to recruit customers.”

How to achieve that? Franchisees need to hear from you, and regularly. Trusted brands keep in touch at consistent intervals, with relevant messaging. They respond quickly to customer queries and address reviews promptly. They reach customers across regional boundaries and through the right channels.

Sound like a lot to bite off? It is. But, as a franchisor, start with what makes sense: share good news; generate goodwill. Send an email to existing customers when new units are sold, for example, as a way to remind them they’re part of a successful brand.  

But don’t stop there. Let data be your guide. Predictive analytics and geographic mapping are data-driven tools that our emerging franchise partners are currently using, with great success, to establish credibility, articulate the most likely sales channels, and determine who to target as viable business prospects.

We know what you’re thinking: “That newfangled technology sounds expensive!” But hear us out.

Our friends at PICKUP, a Dallas-based home-delivery service, cut their site reconnaissance costs from $20K per year down to just $1K using location analytics to choose territories instead of doing it the old fashioned way. Now, with their laptops, they’re accomplishing in minutes what used to take days, recouping essential work time lost to travel. And they’ve almost-entirely eliminated the expensive airfare, hotel accommodations, and meals on the road they used to spend scouting a territory for possible expansion.

How much capital should you prepare to spend on your overall marketing budget? That will depend on your sales. According to Matthew Hudson at TheBalanceSMB.com, “Generally speaking, a successful retail store will spend between 3% and 5% of sales on marketing. Spend more and you’ll be ‘dependent’ on advertising. That means customers will only respond when they see an ad. Spend less and your traffic will suffer because you may not be present enough. There should be a happy medium.”

As a startup brand, don’t feel pressured to go big early on or to put all of your marketing dollars into one basket. Diversify so you reach different potential customers who might be cruising different channels, whether that’s through Facebook ads, email or recruiting events. Again, leverage data to help you figure out what those ideal channels are.

Franchisees should be extending your brand message to their followers, too. But before they’re given license to do so, it’s essential to establish governance for how they can and should evangelize your brand. Develop guidance for when and how logos and trademarks may be used, for example, on printed marketing materials as well as on social media.

Create a ‘brand blueprint’ that clarifies your vision and values, and outlines the style components of your brand, like font face, color schemes, graphics and imagery that exude a consistent theme that the public will grow to recognize instantly. Your brand blueprint should be adhered to by all company representatives, whether they’re advertising on websites, business cards, social media, postcards or interstate billboards.

Remember, though, it’s okay to start off small and work your way up to a full-fledged marketing strategy. Because, remember, without a solid product or service that fulfills a need for your customers, you would have nothing to market about.