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Franchise marketing basics: Everything you need to know

franchise marketing plan

It’s not always easy running a franchise. In addition to all the moving parts that come with managing multiple locations and teams, you’re also faced with the challenge of a layered marketing strategy. On the one hand, you’ve got the brand side while on the other, local marketing, and let’s face it, the two aren’t always on the same page.

But the good news is there is a seamless way to marry the two, and it’s not nearly as difficult as it may seem. It is entirely possible to create a united strategy with the flexibility to allow individual franchisees to contribute with their localized content, and we’re going to explain how.

Table of contents

What is franchise marketing?

Franchise marketing is the strategy used by franchise owners to promote both the larger brand as well as individual locations. While franchise marketing used to focus on traditional media such as flyers and letterbox drops, the rise of digital means franchise marketing demands more assets than ever before. That can make it challenging to manage brand consistency, especially if your franchise business has many locations.

In addition to an overarching brand campaign, franchise marketing includes:

  • Social media
  • Emails
  • Online ads
  • Print collateral such as flyers or posters
  • Global, national or local promotions
  • PR & communication

Why is franchise marketing important?

If you already own a franchise, then you’ll know that it’s your job to create a strong brand to drive business. But for individual franchises to thrive, it’s crucial to also empower them with the tools they need to manage their market. This is especially true when the information they need to communicate is specific to their location or customer base.

However, it’s likely the majority of franchisees don’t have marketing or design experience, and as a result, it’s difficult to maintain brand consistency. Therefore, it falls on the franchise brand team to create a cohesive franchise marketing strategy that can be easily followed and executed while also staying on brand.

With that in mind, let’s first look at some of the ways franchise marketing differs from traditional marketing.

Why franchise marketing is different from most marketing?

Unlike a brand campaign that usually encompasses one or two key messages, franchise marketing is layered because each location has different requirements. Think about just two or three of your locations, and you’ll likely see some of the ways in which they vary. This can include:

  • Customers. This could be in age, attitude, income, or other factors.
  • Location. Some may be visible, while others need more attention.
  • Volume. A higher number of customers demands more assets.
  • Weather. Different seasons or conditions can influence messaging.
  • Competition. The level of competition in the area may require a different approach.
  • Promotional or business needs. Requiring specific location-based communications.

As you can imagine from a marketing point of view, one message just won’t cut it. The alternative is to ensure you provide a multitude of communication options, but with limited time and budget, that simply may not be possible.

The challenges of franchise marketing

In addition to diverse locations, there are challenges for both owners and franchises:

  • Franchisees may have a lack of marketing or brand expertise.
  • Franchise owners are often busy, and guidance or approvals can be hard to get
  • Franchisees are often expected to respond to customers’ needs fast but face the bottlenecks that come with accessing design resources or approvals.

Now you know the challenges, let’s look at how you can get around these issues with a strategy that empowers your franchisees while ensuring they stay on-brand every time.

Getting started with franchise marketing

As we’ve already mentioned, brand consistency is key to building and maintaining your franchise business. But since you can’t create everything yourself, it’s important to empower each franchisee to market their location. Before you get started, there are three things you need to establish:

1. Brand guidelines

A detailed brand guidelines document is essential in establishing what your brand should look, sound, heck, even smell like, if that’s relevant. At a basic level, it should cover the following:

  • Brand identity
  • Brand goals or ethos
  • Logos
  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • Imagery
  • Applications
  • Contact details

Your guidelines should also cover any other relevant information that will help bring your brand to life, and the document should be made available to anyone who handles your brand.

Purple and Pink Brand Guidelines Presentation. Use this template.

2. Shared platform

The nature of the franchise business means teams are not necessarily in the same place. Hence, a shared platform is useful to distribute approved marketing materials, images, or templates that can be customized to each location’s needs.

3. Approved brand imagery

Humans are visual creatures, and the image your brand uses says a lot about who you are. For most people, it’s difficult to articulate why particular images best represent your brand. It’s much easier to supply your franchises with approved imagery to use for their marketing materials.

Even without a photography budget, there are many applications that allow you access to premium images. Or, for the photos you do have, you can easily remove backgrounds and place them in a template with your brand colors.

How to set your franchisees up for success

Now that you have your brand outlined, the next step is empowering franchisees to put it into practice. And there are three ways to do this:

1. Build an accessible brand kit

A Brand Kit is different from brand guidelines as it contains the assets, like templates and images, as set out in the guidelines. Brand kits are essential for franchise businesses as they empower dispersed teams to ensure they are using the right assets on all public-facing channels.

2. Create templates

Pre-designed templates mean your franchisees don’t need to design from scratch. You can create templates for any situation – ads, social posts, even video – and then lock certain parts of the design so only things like text can be customized. Then it’s just a matter of each franchisee updating each template with information, like their location, phone number, offer, or pricing.

3. Build a workflow and approval process

The final thing you need to consider is setting out a clear workflow and approval process, mainly what needs to be approved and what doesn’t. You may want to be across all assets at the start, but once franchisees get up and running, you simply won’t have time to be across everything, so final approval for day-to-day assets should lie with the franchisee. This should all be outlined in a document that includes things like how to request additional assets, reporting issues, and who to contact if problems arise.

Blue and Pink Customer Support Flowchart. Use this template.

Essential franchise marketing assets

Now you’ve got the foundations of your franchise marketing sorted, you can start creating your franchise marketing assets. While there are plenty of options, it’s up to you to decide what will work best for your business.

Social Media Profiles

Yellow and Blue Gadget Business Facebook Cover. Use this template.

The first step to get your franchise profiles set up with branded banners across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Create templates that already have the dimensions set up for you, and you’ll save time, by simply customizing as needed.

Social Media Posts

Colorful Easter Eggs Blue Photo Easter Sale Instagram Post. Use this template.

For many franchises, social media is key to marketing campaigns. Pre-setting templates means making sure you have a post for every occasion. This might be sales, special offers, seasonal events, holidays, launches, or whatever else your franchise needs to communicate. Don’t forget to include different formats such as video posts or stories.

In addition, you can use Canva’s Content Planner to preload your social media posts and schedule them at the optimal times.


Black & White Modern Chic Edgy Minimal Email Newsletter. Use this template.

Email is essential for keeping your brand front of mind with customers. You can send out monthly newsletters or create templates with specific messages, again with just enough wiggle room for customization.

Online ads

Yellow Sandwiches Deli Restaurant Delivery Story Ads. Use this template.

While ads are great for both brand and local marketing, creating ad templates means that franchisees can advertise deals or offers at times that suit them.

Print collateral

Blue Yoga Fitness Flyer. Use this template.

Printed assets, such as flyers and posters, are ideal for local marketing as items can be distributed in-store, in surrounding local businesses, and around the community. Since getting the dimensions right can be tricky, Canva templates make it easy for franchisees to choose a design and update with their details without worrying about sizing. Plus, it makes printing a breeze. Just select the number of printable items, hit print, and get items delivered for free.

Global, national or local promotions

Ecommerce Product Coconut Water Instagram Post. Use this template.

For campaigns requiring multiple items, it’s easy to create, especially when you can resize designs for any format. Design once with Canva, then hit ‘Resize’ to select the different formats you need. Then create a folder so teams can access whichever design they need.

Finally, reviews are excellent for promoting local businesses. Again, it’s up to the franchise owners to collect reviews – something that can be easily done through your Google My Business account – but you can also encourage individual franchises to gather their own. These can then be designed and posted on their social media or wherever else reviews are needed.

Franchise marketing tips and tricks

In addition to creating guidelines, setting up a shared platform, and creating amazing assets to promote your franchise, there are several tips and tricks you can use to ensure your franchise marketing is a success.

  • Keep an open dialogue with your franchisees. Ask for feedback, and be open to their needs and suggestions. They can provide invaluable knowledge or insight to improve your marketing strategy. If possible, try to schedule regular check-ins.
  • Respond to customers fast. Encourage franchisees to respond quickly to customer queries, particularly on social media. You can outline this in your brand guidelines, including examples of how to navigate to difficult situations or questions.
  • Set clear goals. Be upfront with your franchisees about what you expect from them and quantify things like how many new customers they should be acquiring each month. Even if they don’t always hit their targets, it will give them a goal to work towards that they can improve on.
  • Share stories. Actively encourage franchisees to share their successes or challenges, especially how they were achieved or overcome. Document them in a presentation file that can be shared amongst the group for future learning purposes.
  • Keep franchisees in the loop about how campaigns performed. Data and analytics can show you what’s working and what needs improvement. Share this information by using charts and diagrams to make the information easy to digest.
  • Offer incentives and celebrate success. Motivation is vital for building your franchise business. Remember, you’re all on the same team, and it’s your job to keep everyone striving to be the best they can be. After all, a positive approach will have everyone doing their best work.

To learn more about growing your franchise and building a lasting franchise brand, read 8 shifts shaping the franchise marketing of tomorrow and 4 reasons to centralize your franchise brand marketing today.

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