Don’t Overthink Your Franchise Marketing

charles_j_bonfiglio_0.jpgThe world is full of new marketing channels today, and they’re always changing. My parents are still watching TV. My kids are on YouTube and Snapchat. And I’m caught in the middle. For franchise leaders, it can be easy to get confused, jump on the latest bandwagon, and watch your brand message get watered down.

Don’t overthink it. Whether you’re talking about marketing your franchise to consumers or to future franchise location owners, the principles of marketing are almost identical to the principles of customer service. Know your audience. Meet them where they are. Make it easy for them to choose you, then wow them with a great experience.

I can tell you that getting the message right is so crucial to your brand image. Once you get that part right, where you share that message for maximum impact should be a no-brainer. But, always leave room for a little experimentation so you can follow your audience wherever it leads.

Advertising vs. Marketing

Take a look back on the last 30 years. Back then, businesses did a lot of print, a lot of direct mail a lot of TV commercials. The marketing was one-sided. It was so different that we called it by another name — advertising.

Today, advertising has evolved into marketing. It’s more of a conversation. Consumers have information available at their fingertips through smartphones and social media. They want to receive information everywhere they are in the way they like best.

So, it’s no longer a matter of advertising. It’s a matter of having a marketing message, helping consumers understand your brand and associate yourself with topics that are meaningful to them. Marketing is 80% of what smart companies are doing right now to stay in front of consumers, and it’s got to be about more than price and product specs. It’s got to be about the complete experience.

Be Your Own Micro-influencer

We’re hearing a lot about micro-influencers — those people on Instagram and Snapchat who will endorse your brand or product in their personal feeds. It’s a tactic that I think should be used with caution. You’ve got to get the right message to the right people from people who will represent your brand and your values well.

But you know who already represents our brand well? Our franchise business owners. And in that way, we were doing micro-influencer marketing long before it was cool. Your franchise owners should be at the center of everything you do, showcased as brand ambassadors and living everything your brand stands for. They organically promote the lifestyle that your brand represents, drawing more consumers and future owners to your brand.

Put your franchise leadership and your local owners on social media, on video, let them tell your story, and you won’t have to worry about finding the right people. You’ve already got them!

Get Real

When you put your real-world team at the center of your marketing, you tap into another trend in marketing today — authenticity. Your audience wants to align themselves with brands that fit their own values, but they want to see the real you. They want to know that’s who you really are.

Get real about yourself, your brand and your values, and let those be reflected with honesty in your marketing. Likewise, get real about your target audience. Get real about who they are and where they’re at in life, and tailor your message to how they want to be spoken to.

Stop thinking that marketing is one-size-fits-all. Communicating with people in different ways and across different channels doesn’t change who you are and what your franchise represents. It just means that you are respectful of how each person likes to interact.

Don’t overthink this, either. If I’m stumped about what marketing messages appeal to women, I ask the women I know. I consult experts. The information is there. All you have to do is ask for it.

Make it Measurable

A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. It’s true of marketing, too. You’ve got to constantly monitor, measure and test to make sure you’re getting the best return on investment. Has your audience moved to a different channel? Is what you’re doing still working? You’ll never know if you don’t measure results.

I recommend an 80/20 split of marketing channels you know and trust versus new channels you’re testing out. Measure it, manage it, adjust it. As another channel powers up and offers better return on investment, it’s time to shift. Fortunately, social media platforms and search engine analytics can make some results easier to track, but be sure to measure other data points as well. Look at lifetime value, what kind of customer you’re attracting. Are they returning? Do they really enjoy the quality you offer? Are there areas where you’re lacking conversions?

Time to Fine-Tune

When you’re adopting current trends into your marketing plan, it’s important to not try too many new things at once. Give yourself time to measure the results and make informed decisions. Stay true to your brand, but fine-tune the delivery. Find out what works, what gives the consumer what they want, what makes the sale easiest on them.

Wow them with a superb experience from the moment they hear about your brand. That’s the best marketing plan you can have — past, present and future.

Charles Bonfiglio is president and CEO of Tint World®, an award-winning franchised provider of automotive, residential, commercial and marine window tinting and security film services. With Automotive Styling Centers™ in the U.S. and abroad, each franchise location houses approximately 20 profit centers, ranging from in-store accessory installations, to off-site sales and installation of residential, commercial and marine window tinting and security films. To find out more, please visit www.tintworld.com and tintworldfranchise.com .