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Marketing is one of franchising’s greatest weapons, and it’s a gift to franchisees. Many independent business owners (non-franchisees) discover that their secret to success (or more likely, their reason for failure) is not the value of their product or service, but the effectiveness of their marketing!
“Marketing makes the world go round because it’s responsible for selling everything,” explains Dr. John Hayes, a franchise specialist who teaches marketing at Gulf University for Science & Technology. “A mediocre product, or even a product that’s not good for you, can excel with the right marketing mix.”
But it’s no simple thing to come up with the right marketing mix. In fact, unless you’re a trained marketer with years of experience, and you have money to invest to experiment with various marketing tools, your marketing mix will fall short of your expectations.
“Failed marketing plans explain why so many independent businesses fail,” continues Hayes, author of Buy “Hot” Franchises Without Getting Burned, and other best-selling franchise titles. “These businesses are started by smart people who often invest tens of thousands of dollars – more than it would cost to buy a franchise – and they fail in spite of their quality product or service. It’s only after they’ve failed, when they’re trying to figure out what went wrong, that they realize their marketing plan sunk their business.”
What to do?
“It’s an easy answer,” says Hayes, a former franchisor and franchisee. “Buy a franchise with a proven track record for implementing winning marketing plans!” Hayes suggests keeping the following points in mind while evaluating a franchise:
1. Great collaboration develops winning marketing plans.
While franchisors and franchisees may collaborate to develop the franchise brand’s marketing mix, it is ultimately the franchisor’s responsibility. Most franchisors will establish a Marketing Committee that includes franchisees and representatives of the corporate office (the franchisor). The committee gives franchisees the opportunity to voice their opinions about marketing, which is often insightful because franchisees are closest to the consumers. These committees will usually opt to hire outside experts to help them develop and implement their marketing plans.
2. Franchisees usually pay for implementing the marketing plan.
Franchisors usually create Marketing Funds and require their franchisees to pay a percentage of gross sales into the fund every month. Those funds never belong to the franchisor – they belong to the franchisees – and they are used to pay for implementing the national (but not the local) marketing plan. Franchisors will sometimes contribute to the fund, but they’re not required to do so.
3. Franchisors provide marketing materials to franchisees.
The Marketing Fund is also used to develop creative materials for implementation of the marketing plan. Franchisees should never be asked to write radio commercials or even develop social media posts. The franchisee’s job is to sell products and services, not create marketing materials!
4. Marketing plans are easy to evaluate after the fact!
“Always ask existing franchisees, ‘How effective is your brand’s marketing?’” says Hayes. “But it’s also important to ask the most successful franchisees how much they spend on local marketing. National marketing builds the brand, but local marketing drives the sales. Unfortunately, some franchisees skimp on local marketing and then they’re dissatisfied with their earnings and they blame the marketing plan.”
A winning marketing plan is expensive, but it’s affordable with the combined resources of franchisor and franchisees. Don’t underestimate this weapon – it’s a key to your success as a franchisee.