As a franchisor, your goal is to grow your business through franchisees—local owners who expand your business into new locations and markets, earning you more royalties and making it easier to grow the brand even further. Every franchisee is responsible for capturing the attention—and loyalty—of his or her local market through consistently engaging customer experiences driven by powerful marketing.
But there’s one catch. The more franchise locations you have, the more difficult it becomes to maintain brand integrity. Without the right systems, processes and tools in place to provide franchisees with the marketing support they need, you run the risk of diluting your brand with inconsistent messaging and questionable collateral quality.
As the franchisor, you’re responsible not only for national level marketing initiatives, but for providing localized marketing support, while protecting your brand integrity. You need to be able to clearly define your brand guidelines and plans, make resources readily available, share best practices and keep communication lines open consistently. And while it may be easy enough to do that manually when you’ve got a handful of franchise locations (and owners), the more your locations grow, the more time and resources will be required to juggle support requests and meet the needs of every franchisee.
Today’s growing franchises need a centralized solution that empowers franchisees, keeps their brand in lockstep with their business and enabling the seamless execution of marketing programs at scale.
In this ebook, we’ll cover five compelling reasons to implement a turnkey solution that supports the end-to-end management of local, franchise marketing campaigns and programs from creation to distribution—empowering franchisees while keeping you in command of your brand.
- Empower franchisees to run their own marketing campaigns
- Maintain branding quality and consistency in every market, across every channel
- Speed time to market with on-demand printing, kitting, and distribution facilities
- Streamline your budget and control franchise allocations
- Keep a constant pulse on what’s working—and what’s not
Customers Demand Consistent Marketing at Every Touchpoint
Omnichannel marketing is the new norm, and customers demand consistent experiences across every channel. 76 percent say it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere, and 73 percent will do it if their brand engagement expectations aren’t met.
In short, when you’re a business with multiple cooks in the marketing kitchen, it’s more important than ever to ensure all brand representatives have the tools they need to provide the experiences customers are looking for.
Empower Franchisees to Run Their Own Marketing Campaigns
The last thing you want to be spending your time and resources on, is micromanaging your franchisees. And that’s especially true when it comes to local marketing. Your franchisees know their local markets better than you do, and they’re savvy business people. So, rather than trying to manage local marketing campaigns yourself, empower franchisees to take the reins.
By contracting with a marketing execution partner, you can do just that. When you implement a turnkey solution that includes the platforms and services you need to centralize and streamline marketing efforts, you achieve several things:
- A centralized repository where franchisees can access, download and order the most up-to-date, corporate-approved marketing collateral
- A process by which franchisees can design and implement their own campaigns using preapproved marketing templates, from personalizing collateral to displaying and distributing printed materials
- Tighter control over budget distribution and allocation, and deeper insights into campaign progress and success—with less hands-on oversight
As a franchisor, you could spend several hours a week guiding franchisees through asset creation, placing orders and tracking expenses. Or, worse, you could juggle all the marketing execution needs on your own. But what if you could simply provide all of the execution support franchisors need—from branding guidelines to brochures and banners to production and tracking—and then let them go, confident that your brand was in good hands?
Franchise Brand Integrity: Maintaining Brand Standards Across Your Locations
The first hurdle for local marketing efforts is ensuring that every brand engagement, in every location, across every channel, is consistent in quality and message. In other words, your first challenge is protecting your brand value, which is estimated to be worth about 17 percent of your business value.[i]
Protecting your brand is vital if you want to keep customers engaged and loyal, but if you’ve got reps across the country promoting it, how do you make sure your message and experience stays consistent without restricting franchisees’ ability to launch localized programs and campaigns?
(After all, we’ve all played “Telephone,” and we know what happens to even the simplest message when it’s passed from hand to hand without any guidance from the originator.)
The solution: centralize management of your brand by storing approved digital assets in one, easy-to-access location, allowing users to customize text and images for their own local audiences, order kits of materials and signage or electronically download localized marketing materials—all while staying in compliance with brand guidelines.
67 percent of top performing companies have a strategy to centralize brand and marketing functions while empowering local offices to conduct their own marketing efforts.[ii]
How to Protect the Value of Your Brand by Taking Control of Your Franchise Marketing Operations
Maintaining the value and health of your brand requires consistency across every asset you put out into the world, whether it’s a billboard, in-store sign, or anything else that leaves an impression on prospects and customers.
Each brand interaction, no matter how big or small, is an opportunity to shape the consumer perceptions that drive decision-making. It’s up to marketers to make sure each of those interactions strengthens the brand by providing consistent, high-quality touch points across the board.
This is especially true for franchise marketers responsible for maintaining a single brand identity across multiple locations. Here, brand integrity often boils down to brand control.
While every franchisee is an extension of the same brand, it’s, well, not uncommon for franchise owners to have differing opinions on how best to market themselves locally. Sometimes, unfortunately, these ideas don’t quite adhere to the standards that give your brand the power it has.
In this guide, we’ll unpack the challenge of maintaining brand standards across multiple franchise locations, frame a set of solutions, and explore how technology is playing a huge role in helping franchise marketers act on them and get back to what they do best: developing compelling campaigns that drive growth.
Inconsistent Branding Signals a Larger Problem
Branding issues across franchise locations is one of the biggest threats to brand integrity and a leading cause of frustration and anxiety among marketers back at the corporate office.
Cases of inconsistent franchise branding can range from mild to severe. Maybe a hurried franchise owner ignored their brand guidelines and used some unapproved fonts on their point-of-purchase signs.
Or maybe the infraction was more egregious. A franchise owner might have launched an unapproved, hastily-planned direct mail campaign, blanketing an entire zip code with last year’s promotion by mistake. Making matters worse, the mailer featured a pixelated, outdated logo design you would have caught in a second.
Both are brand infractions and both can undo the hard work you put into making your brand meaningful to prospects and customers.
To avoid branding inconsistencies, big or small, marketers first need to realize that they’re symptoms of a larger problem: a lack of control. More specifically, a lack of control over what franchise locations can access, store, use, and order.
Today, these problems have been largely eliminated by technology solutions designed to improve distributed marketing operations. When utilized to their full potential, these tools give marketers total control over their franchise owners’ marketing activities without taking on more work themselves, and in many cases, reduces their workload.
In addition to eliminating brand inconsistencies, these tools streamline distributed marketing operations across the board, freeing you from endless operational management so you can get back to building amazing campaigns
The Challenges of Franchise Brand Control
All right, let’s jump in and dive into where, specifically, a lack of control can give rise to brand-damaging issues between the franchisor and its franchisees.
- Decentralized asset management. Without a centralized system for managing marketing assets at the local level, you can’t really know what’s sitting on a franchisee’s hard drive. Yes, you’ve sent this season’s new brand assets out to everyone, but do you have the controls in place to ensure they’re actually being used? If not, all you can do is cross your fingers and hope that the materials locked away on users’ computers and company folders are current and accessible.
- Lack of visibility. You can’t manage what you can’t see. This is incredibly important in a complex network of franchise locations spread across the map—each using the kind of piecemeal, decentralized systems we mentioned before. Without visibility into what each location is accessing, creating, and ordering, it’s impossible to be proactive in maintaining brand standards across the company. Instead, you can watch and react only after mistakes are made and damage is done.
- Lack of approval. While this ties in closely with visibility, it’s worth breaking out on its own. It’s one thing to see the marketing materials each location creates for itself, but it’s another to actually control them through an approval mechanism. You, the marketer, can only be confident that your brand is being adequately maintained when you’re the one reviewing and approving those materials before they enter the world. (As we’ll explore later, this doesn’t have to mean taking on extra work when you have the right tools. Just the opposite, actually.)
- Disconnected print/fulfillment. In addition to planning and creating marketing materials, control is also often lost in the marketing supply chain used to print and deliver them. The more complex this chain is, the more chances there are for things to go wrong within it. In franchises, the weakest link is typically between the systems used to make orders and the systems used to print and fulfill them. Most franchises and other multi-location organizations find they need to partner with multiple print vendors in order to cover locations across several geographic areas. But in addition to the opportunity and actual costs of managing multiple vendors, this can force you to integrate multiple systems, inviting opportunities for expensive errors and leading to wasted spend by making things way more complex than they need to be. More dangerously, franchises without an approved print vendor often find franchisees printing from own in-office printers or turning to their local print shop, creating pieces that don’t meet the high quality your consumers expect—or, more often than not, your brand standards.
- Lack of inventory and expense tracking. Keeping track of marketing inventory across multiple franchises is critical for both avoiding missed opportunities due to shortages and saving budget that would otherwise be wasted on overages, stock obsolescence, and print and warehousing costs. Without the ability to get real-time visibility here, it’s up to you to ensure your figures are constantly accurate and up-to-date across the entire network—a task that, again, wastes valuable time while creating a constant sense of anxiety.
There’s a lot of moving pieces here. With so many challenges involved in maintaining brand standards, it can be hard to know where to start turning things around to regain control over the marketing operations across your franchise system.
To help you get your bearings and take the first steps toward getting there, we’ve laid out a plan designed specifically for franchise marketers who know there’s room for improvement in their operations.
Improving franchise brand integrity
The following steps offer a generic guide to improving brand maintenance throughout your organization. Use it to contextualize the challenges you face by identifying specific opportunities for improvement and make the case for getting the tools you need to take advantage of them.
- Centralize assets and materials on a single system. Today, franchise marketing teams don’t have to settle for email attachments to deliver brand assets to each location. Technology has stepped in to solve this problem entirely.
- Centralized marketing platforms like U.Connect let marketers upload assets to one place where every franchise owner can access and use them, simplifying the distribution of marketing content across regions and divisions and from corporate to local markets.
- Develop assets for local customization. With a centralized marketing distribution platform in place, you can finally get some relief by safely offloading local projects to local end-users by giving each location access to branded campaign templates and other materials they can use to create the kinds of personalized local campaigns customers expect from top brands.
- With a platform like U.Connect, each end-user can populate approved, pre-designed templates to create their own high-quality marketing collateral while maintaining the level of control you need by locking certain areas of content, opening others for customization, and putting an approval step in place.
- Make approval easy. Without a system designed for approval, the necessary task of reviewing local assets can be a huge time-suck.
- Approval-enabled distributed marketing platforms like U.Connect make it easy to get notified of approval requests and easily review materials to get campaigns up and running faster.
- Let franchisees print approved materials on-demand. When franchisees are empowered to create their own marketing campaigns (protected through approval, of course), a whole new door to efficiency opens for everyone: web-to-print.
In short, whatever tedious processes are currently in place to place print orders can be reduced to the click of a button. With U.Connect, for example, users can create and order customized print and digital communications just-in-time, leveraging Personalized Print-On-Demand (PPOD) tools to radically improve the ordering and fulfillment
All the opportunities for improvement you knew might be possible, finally are possible thanks to the technology platforms at a franchise marketer’s disposal.
Unlike other digital systems that only end up creating more complexity, these tools are genuine solutions, specifically designed to provide measurable ROI in the form of greater efficiency and productivity and the less tangible but equally important area of brand equity.
Speed Time to Market with On-Demand Printing, Kitting Support and Distribution Facilities
One of the biggest keys to successful marketing is staying on pace with—or ahead of—customers’ conversations and needs. If marketing messages aren’t timely, they aren’t heard. So one of the best ways to support franchisee marketing efforts is to give them the tools to execute their campaigns quickly, and this is another powerful opportunity to leverage your turnkey marketing execution partner.
At OneTouchPoint, we support on-demand printing—from flyers to grand format signage—so your franchisees can print the materials they need when they need them, with no minimum quantities. We also handle kitting and assembly as well as distribution—to local stores or directly to prospective customers—from any of our seven facilities across the country. We ensure every batch of materials gets where it needs to go as quickly and cost effectively as possible.
As a franchisor, giving your franchisees the authority to outsource production and distribution— and access to a team of pros—is like giving them superpowers.
Companies deploying solutions like distributed marketing platforms to manage production and distribution report a reduction of 25% in time spent assembling and customizing marketing materials at the local level.[i]
Streamline Your Budget and Control Franchise Allocations
The idea of maintaining absolute control over budget allocations and franchise expense may make continued marketing micromanagement a little more attractive, but here’s the secret: handing over power doesn’t mean handing over control.
The same solutions that empower your franchisees to take control over their campaigns can also provide the franchisor with better visibility into and tighter control over budget allocations and expenses. Our technology solutions enable franchisors to set budgets by user access level, create automated workflows that standardize your order approval process, track expenses against budget and more easily manage chargebacks.
While we’re on the subject of money, here are a few other ways a single-source marketing vendor can save franchisors money:
- Buying from a single-source vendor reduces both the marketing expenses and the time spent managing vendors and juggling invoices
- Just-in-time and on-demand production reduces inventory, decreases warehousing costs and nearly eliminates waste
- Increase productivity, giving teams more time for sales and other growth-oriented activities
In all, expanded self-service, print-on-demand capability and streamlined management typically reduce overall spend by 15 to 20 percent.
Keep a Constant Pulse on What’s Working—and What’s Not
Centralizing marketing supply chain operations not only turns franchisees into CMOs, but it helps both franchisor and franchisees track what’s working and what’s not, make informed decisions about campaign strategies and maintain appropriate inventory levels.
After all, when print quantity decisions are just educated guesses and it’s unclear which strategies are actually working, that’s when marketers start spending more money than they need to, simply because they’re making decisions based on trial-and-error. But with access to real-time production status and inventory levels, custom reporting on your most important KPIs and integration with other third-party platforms, you can see all your critical data in one place.
These analytics provide a firmer grasp on inventory and mailings and insights into which marketing assets are being used (or not) and which assets and tactics are most effective for each franchise location—and which ones may not be worth further investment.
Learn more about Creating a Franchise Brand Command Center with U.Connect
OneTouchPoint’s U.Connect platform helps franchise marketers take control of their brand, budgets, and future, serving as a central command center for flawless marketing execution and supply chain management. Learn more about the full stack solution for franchise marketers.
U.Connect enables end-to-end management of local, national, and global marketing campaigns and programs from creation to distribution—offering digital asset management, governed localization and customization, Web2Print on-demand ordering and fulfillment, budgetary and financial controls, and in-depth analytics. Learn more about U.Connect, grab our free data sheet, or request a free demo to see it in action today.
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