It just takes clear vision, a strong resolve, and a marketing partner willing to navigate the unique waters of franchise businesses.
Unfortunately, too many franchise organizations play “me, too” when it comes to creative. Sometimes the corporation is afraid to try to sell in something new to the system. Sometimes it’s just easier and “safer” to be another copycat in the category. But if your marketing communications are just like everyone else’s, how will anyone know you’re different? Differences, real or perceived, are what get consumers to choose you.
So, how do you stand out? Say huh-uh to ho-hum. Say no to the status quo. Don’t be afraid to show who you are, and who you want to be. Ask yourself if each of your communications measure up to the following criteria. If they don’t, chances are they’re not making a real impact in the minds of consumers, either.
Is it DIFFERENTIATING? Just because every other business of your type in town is running ads with pixies and unicorns doesn’t mean you should. Let them be part of the sea of sameness. Pick out what you do best, what you stand for, and by golly, stand for it.
Is it ENGAGING? Contrary to popular belief, you cannot bore customers into choosing you. Your message has to be something that’s real, relevant, and interesting. You have to get their attention and connect with them on some kind of personal or intellectual level before you can ever hope to sell them something.
Is it CONSISTENT? Everything — I repeat — everything you put out in the marketplace should support your brand message. Whether it’s an image ad, a promotion, a sale flyer or a ValPak insert, be true to your positioning, tone and manner. How you look, speak and act at every consumer interface is what builds a picture of you in the minds of consumers.
Is it CLEAR? Muddling up your communications is like Kryptonite to a brand — it weakens and eventually kills it. If you’re not clear on what you are, how can you expect anyone out there to be? Don’t try to force fit myriads of messages into your communications. Be concise. Be in control. Be understandable.
Is it SIMPLE? Face it. You think WAY more about your business than anyone you’re talking to ever will. Don’t create a brand strategy that sounds like something that came out of the Pentagon. Don’t write a mission statement that tries to make you all things to all people — you can’t be. Get over it.
Is it USED? If the system doesn’t use the work, it’s useless. Franchisees are entrepreneurs, and they have opinions. (Surprise!) Engage the system in the brand essence and in your strategies and insights, before it gets to the creative stage. Listen to ideas from the field — they really can be brilliant sometimes. Make sure your agency understands all the subtleties and nuances of the business. Then let them craft work for you that’s fresh, interesting and accepted. Create programs that are turnkey, affordable and effective.
I could be overly optimistic, but I believe that franchise marketing can be every bit as creative as the best stuff out there. It just takes a clear vision, a strong resolve, and a marketing partner that’s willing to navigate the unique waters of franchise business. Good luck.