Getting Franchisees to Buy into Your National Marketing Fund
Implementing and maintaining an effective national marketing fund together with your franchisees is both an operational and psychological challenge. If franchisees had poor experiences in the past with corporate-level initiatives, marketing or otherwise, they may distrust programs they do not directly control.
Given the benefits of well-managed national marketing, it is the job of senior-level marketing executives to overcome these concerns through open communication and clear reporting that shows actual financial return on investment (ROI) for the franchisee.
It’s not uncommon for franchisees to question the value of national marketing funds, especially if they have no insight into how – and if – they will work. When they don’t feel as if they have a seat at the table, franchisees may even begin to resent the funds, and seek limiting or reducing their investments.
It’s important for franchise marketing executives to resist this by having clearly developed and articulated marketing strategies, complete with detailed metrics supporting past performance. They must also demonstrate value proposition by providing detailed information about the fund, efficiencies, economy of scale and performance by channel. Finally, it’s a best-practice to reframe the conversation so it is more collaborative to the franchisees.
Communication and Hard Data
While it can be difficult to get certain franchisees to buy into a national marketing fund; the vast majority appreciate the help and inherent benefits. One of the biggest struggles franchisees face is finding ways to market their businesses. Since effective marketing requires a full-time effort by a team of professionals, it’s not practical for a franchisee to split time between sales, operations and marketing.
Most franchisees are looking for leadership and will happily welcome the help that comes from a cooperative national marketing fund – if they are given insight into its strategies and performance. This requires that senior-level marketing executives communicate clearly and regularly on performance, while showing clear examples of successes that go beyond brand building, such as leads, store traffic, telephone calls, increased revenue, etc.
How Involved Should Your Franchisees Be?
Most franchisors would agree that it’s better to have their franchisees focused on sales and operations as much as possible, while limiting their involvement in marketing strategy development and implementation. That said, it’s important for franchisors to give their franchisees a voice, so they can see the value of the fund and do their part to ensure its success.
Franchisors need to make sure that their franchisees clearly understand the marketing strategies, goals and tactics of a national plan, so they can help support and implement the tactics in coordinated ways. In many instances, high-performing franchise companies will use franchisee marketing advisory councils in the development and implementation of national marketing plans, particularly in situations where franchisee buy-in is weak. This helps to give the franchisee a voice in the process, while helping them to embrace and support the strategy behind the plan.
In addition to clearly outlining the goals and tactics involved in a national marketing fund, franchisors must demonstrate to franchisees the depth of strategic expertise that they and their agency partner(s) have, while maintaining a balance of education, communication and authority that earn respect and support for the national fund.
Modern digital marketing provides high-performing franchise companies the ability to measure and report performance with incredible detail. Armed with this data, franchisors can refine their campaigns to drive better results, while also showing franchisees the value of their investments within a national marketing fund.