Merri Cronk: Racing from IndyCar to Franchising
Merri Cronk: Racing from IndyCar to Franchising

Former auto racing marketing specialist now helps Texans become entrepreneurs.

Before Merri Cronk became a franchise consultant with FranNet, North America’s leader in matching entrepreneurs with franchise ownership opportunities, she spent five years representing a joint venture between a marketing firm and former IndyCar team Treadway Racing. Her job was to work alongside team sponsors to create and implement branding and marketing strategies.

Now, the 2014 FranNet Consultant of the Year spends her time working with residents throughout Texas to help them fulfill their dreams of becoming their own boss.

With a background in marketing and plenty of firsthand knowledge of running a business herself, Cronk knows a thing or two about the importance of brand recognition.

“Marketing in franchise business is incredibly important, as it would be with any business,” Cronk said.

And a great way to do that is to get involved with the community.

“If the franchise requires franchisees to build a network in the local business community or to get involved in certain areas of the local community, I work to introduce them into local groups to help them build the business quickly,” she said.

Though being involved locally is important, marketing has reached larger and more diverse audiences thanks to the ever-expanding reach of social media. Cronk said she expected more franchisees will utilize this medium as a platform to convey breand concepts and attract new customers.

“More and more, people turn to the Internet for information on goods and services,” Cronk said. “The more presence franchises have digitally, the better off they will be.”

But when it comes to franchise marketing, she advises her clients to follow the processes and plans set out by their franchisor, because each franchise handles marketing differently depending on its line of business.

“Many franchises that cater to consumers will use couponing and advertising both in print and digital media,” Cronk continued. “Franchises that cater to other businesses may use direct mail marketing, in addition to local business networking and selling. The most important part of this is that the individual franchisee understands what’s required by the franchisor and that they know they can execute the plan before investing in the business.”

When it comes to marketing for franchises, Cronk said it’s best that franchisees look at marketing as an investment in their business, not as a cost. She also recommended franchisors allow franchisees the opportunity to share new ideas.

“Some of the best ideas come from franchisees who were willing to try new things in addition to what they were already required to do,” Cronk said.