5 Marketing Tips – Franchises Benefit from Integrated Promotions and Mail Campaigns

If you are like most franchisors, you continually face the same challenge: how to grow your business in a competitive marketplace. The primary leverage points franchisors have to grow their companies are twofold: add more franchisees to their networks and ensure the ongoing success of those franchisees once they have been added. One key to achieving both is to plan and execute optimal promotions and direct mail campaigns.

In order for a given franchise network’s promotions and direct mail campaign to be optimal, the campaign must meet four conditions: 1. must be cost-effective, 2. must accurately communicate the value proposition of the company, 3. must be easy for franchisees to participate in, and 4. must target the right customers and prospects.

With these conditions in mind, here are 5 marketing tips for franchises for designing and executing integrated campaigns:

Tip #1: Standardize your marketing materials:

One of the cornerstones of good branding is the ability to present an integrated brand image – the look-and-feel of your materials, the messaging you use to reach out to prospective customers, and your value proposition – at every point of customer contact. Regardless of which advertising media you leverage or which members of your organization are in daily contact with your customer base, it is important to present a “unified front” in terms of what your organization is all about. This is particularly important for franchise organizations. If you leave it up to individual franchisees to develop marketing and advertising materials, it is highly likely that your customers and prospects will be exposed to conflicting brand images about your organization. This should be avoided at all costs because it can damage the brand you are working so hard to build.

Tip #2: Allow for just the right degree of customization:

Franchisors need to set forth strict guidelines for the use of company-branded promotional materials. Franchisees are faced with a dilemma: they want to promote the company brand, but they also need to communicate to customers the relevant information about their specific locations. As a guideline, about 80% to 90% of each piece of direct mail, poster, door hanger, and promotional good your organization sends to customers should remain consistent from location to location. At the same time, it is important to give franchisees the freedom to add address, store locator and customized coupon or promotion-related information as per their local campaigns. Striking the right balance between standardization and customization is paramount.

Tip #3: Give franchisees the flexibility to place orders online, anytime:

Franchisees are busy running their businesses day-to-day. They need to be able to place orders for corporate-approved promotions and direct mail campaigns on their own terms – even if that means doing so in their pajamas at 10:00 p.m. on a Saturday night over a hot cup of coffee. Franchise networks that implement password-protected, secure online ordering systems benefit from the flexibility that comes from “at-anytime, from-anywhere” style ordering. Online ordering means that franchisors can avoid the hassle of receiving or fulfilling mail and promo goods orders from franchisees. And, franchisees gain the flexibility to place orders anytime they choose – on their own terms.

Tip #4: Allow for targeted mail campaigns by offering only the most relevant list filters:

Franchisees are interested in the day-to-day tactics and strategies of running a cost-effective operation – they are in most cases not marketing experts. On the other hand, franchisees do understand that targeting the prospects that are most likely to respond to their direct mail campaigns makes good financial sense. The trouble is, there are literally thousands of available ways to filter any given mailing list today; income, age, and gender are just the tip of the iceberg. The best way around this dilemma of simplicity-of-ordering vs. offering multiple list filtering options is to set up an ordering system that gives franchisees access to just a handful of the most important list filters (e.g., demographic selects). This allows your franchisees the freedom to select their own list filtering criteria but at the same time does not overwhelm them with hundreds of confusing options.

Tip #5: Set up pre-arranged fulfillment agreements on behalf of your franchisees:

Franchisees often work 12 to 16 hour days building their businesses, especially when they are opening new locations. They know that marketing and advertising are important, but they do not have the time to call vendors, compile mail lists, check drafts, negotiate pricing and place orders – let alone get corporate approvals. The solution: the franchisor can help franchisees by pre-selecting the right goods and mail items and then setting up business agreements with geographically-appropriate vendors to fulfill them. That way, the franchisee just needs to pick up the phone or go online and place the order after choosing from a list of pre-approved items. Thinking through these considerations ahead of time can free up franchisors to focus on growing their business rather than managing the day-to-day selection, approval and fulfillment of promotional items.

Finding intelligent, cost-effective ways to integrate promotions and direct mail campaigns across your franchise network can pay off huge dividends down the road. These dividends include fewer franchisor headaches, higher participation rates among franchisees, a more integrated brand image across all points of customer contact, and more cost-effective, targeted campaigns.

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