As a franchisor, a tremendous amount of your time and effort is spent on building and marketing your franchise brand. After all, the stronger your brand, the greater the demand for your franchise opportunities and the faster you can grow your business. Additionally, you benefit from helping your franchisees with their own local marketing efforts; their success is your success. How do you accomplish all of this, executing your franchise marketing plan while making sure you’re maximizing your marketing budget? The right marketing partner can help.
Choosing a Franchise Marketing Partner
Finding the right fit for your franchise business can be a time consuming process, but it’s time well spent. Better to spend the time up front to find a helpful, effective partner that works for all franchisees than to spend the time at the back end trying to get out of a partnership post roll out. Take a comprehensive approach to reviewing different marketing agencies, platforms, and software solutions to determine the right partner for your needs.
- Determine your franchise system objective
- Identify an initial list of vendors that can deliver on your needs
- Gather information on the vendors on your list
- Review the information and establish a shortlist of vendors
- Schedule meetings and demonstrations with shortlisted vendors
- Evaluate the finalists and select a vendor that fits with your franchise
1. Determine Your Objective
It all starts with determining what it is that you want to accomplish. It’ll help clarify your needs and set you on the path to finding the right partner. What is your goal, when do you want to achieve it and how much is already being taken care of? Examples of objectives for a corporate franchise marketing team could be to:
- Increase brand awareness
- Ensure national brand consistency
- Generate more local foot traffic
- Improve online reputation
It’s essential to determine what part of your budget you can allocate to these marketing efforts based on priority. The objective and available budget are two important criteria to evaluate marketing vendors against.
2. Identify an Initial List
The place to start preparing your list of vendors (10 is a good number to start with) would be with those you’ve already have contact with. Add to that recommendations from other franchisors and any other reputable vendors that handle clients in your industry, both locally and nationally. Local vendors may be convenient, but you’ll want to make sure they have the chops to handle effective nationwide marketing. Lastly, you should do an online search and learn about any new innovative vendors that may be up and coming as new technologies are constantly changing what’s possible.
3. Gather Information
Once you’ve identified an initial list, try and get as much information as possible about each of the vendors. Request direct information, check their website and other online resources, ask for feedback from industry connections, and if individual franchisees have already worked with the vendor – that is the ideal input to consider. At this point your main goal is to confirm whether the vendor’s offerings will help you accomplish your objective. This is your first impression of the vendor where you can learn about their responsiveness, communication style, and interest in your franchise brand.
4. Determine Shortlist
Some vendors will take themselves out of the running by either not responding or responding in a way that isn’t helpful to you. Reviewing the information by those who respond will no doubt make it clear that some companies simply are not a good fit. Either the details of the services offered do not match your objective, an out-of-budget price, or because they are not a “culture fit” with your franchise system. Ideally you’d want approximately 3 vendors on your final shortlist.
5. Meet and Demo
For the vendors on the final shortlist, you’ll want to dive right in and learn about every intricacy of what they can offer your franchise. Both sides should have the intent to build a long-term partnership that makes both better off. You should understand not just what the vendor offers, but what exactly they’d offer your franchise system and how it would help accomplish your objective (never lose sight of your initial reason for exploring marketing vendors). Here are some questions you may want to ask:
- What are the two greatest strengths/differentiators your company has?
- What are the unique benefits your company can offer us?
- What quantifiable results have you achieved for other franchises?
- How will we measure the success of your efforts?
- How will this work for individual franchisees? How can we optimize franchisee adoption/compliance?
- How does this work with my existing efforts and systems?
- What is a projected timeline of results we should expect to see once we start working together?
- What franchise experience do you have?
- What experience do you have in my particular industry?
- Who would be our key account representative and what is his/her commitment to our account?
For vendors to provide the best answer, it is essential that you also share your objectives, challenges, ideas, and concerns. This is the stage where trust needs to be built to establish and develop a possible long-term relationship.
6. Make Your Final Selection
Now’s the time to make the final choice between vendors. The process might end with an initial pilot before a long-term contract or nationwide rollout, but at the very least you should commit to one vendor. In today’s fast-moving world, standing still means taking a step back as competitors won’t be waiting for you. After going through this process, you should be confident you’re making the right choice and on your way to accomplishing your franchise marketing objectives.