1851 consulted industry experts and franchisors to gain a better understanding of how young-but-growing brands can best allocate their budgets in the coming year.
If you’re an emerging brand, developing and working within a marketing budget can be overwhelming. As smaller brands tend to have smaller budgets, it is important to consult the experts on how to spend that money wisely. Here are some tips that all emerging franchise brands should keep in mind when developing their franchise development marketing budgets for 2020.
Understand Your Budget Constraints
What works for an established brand isn’t necessarily going to work for an emerging brand. It is important to know your budget and plan accordingly. The numbers are going to vary depending on the nuances of your specific business, but one good technique is following the Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule, which allows you to narrow in on which specific areas you should spend.
“Start with the end in mind,” said Matt Kelton, Chief Operating Officer of home-staging and management franchise Showhomes. “How many franchises do you want to sell this year? Be conservative when it comes to budget—most people underestimate the actual costs of marketing.”
“Unless you are an established brand, focus your efforts online,” said Linton Dowling, Marketing Director for franchise development company RainTree. “Marketing spent on old platforms such as magazines or billboards can’t be measured effectively with a limited budget. Find which platforms are working best and utilize those.”
Established brands have more liberty to try new channels of marketing, while emerging brands don’t have the luxury of straying away from proven areas, Dowling explained. With the help of analytics, brands should be able to create a consumer profile and avoid unprofitable campaigns.
Establish a Strong Digital Presence
We’ve all heard it a million times, but in the modern digital world, content truly is king. Whether your brand is a salad concept or a rock climbing franchise, the internet has become the most important tool for marketing and development. Of course, the digital marketing sphere encompasses a huge range of tools and categories.
“At this point, the website will always be the number one driver,” Dowling said. “The first step should always be setting up a great website with the highest design standard. From there, using channels like Google Analytics, Facebook and LinkedIn all allow for effective measurement of leads and sales.”
As these tools create more precise and detailed descriptions of an emerging brand’s ideal consumer demographic, it is crucial to cater your online presence to a defined target audience. Even on a small budget, there are plenty of free courses that can teach companies about online analytics.
Kelton described Showhomes’ marketing strategy as one primarily concerned with digital efforts. “If you do a lot of lead generation but don’t have a good website to lead people to, you are wasting time,” Kelton said. “We have a new gateway with new franchisees that takes them on a self-guided tour through the website, allowing them to answer all of their own questions.”
Milena Rimassa, Marketing Director at Juice it Up!, explained how important it is to stay ahead of the curve. “Our art department focuses on a lot of forward-thinking pieces,” she said. “People are looking for information and brands that are aware of what is happening in the QSR space.”
Digital and online marketing should always be a top priority, as it has become such an integral part of the franchising landscape. “No matter what, make sure that within your budget, you have a dedicated design professional who can update the website as needed,” said Dowling.
Beyond the website and social media, brands like Juice it Up! are focusing on app development to promote customer engagement, which, in turn, bolsters their business offering to franchisees. “We are working on a new app that utilizes our loyalty reward program to create a great source for getting information out to our customers.”
Pursue Your Defined Target Audience
With a defined brand voice established through content that is then leveraged across your brand’s digital channels, an integral next step is placing that content in front of the people you are trying to attract to your opportunity. Every penny spent on marketing should be concise and designed to push relevant information in the right direction to reach the correct consumer base.
“It’s extremely important to us to have a good salesperson,” Kelton said. “At the end of the day, where are your closers coming from? These things involve a lot of trial and error.”
“Find your ideal candidate and personality profiles,” said Kelton. “At Showhomes, we have a system in place to find the skills and motivators of people who have proven to do well with us. Once you have identified where the people are, you find where you should be spending money.”
Rimassa explained that any emerging brand that doesn’t want to fail must find their audience and engage with them. “Given the fiscal limitations of smaller companies, your brand fans should become a source of earned media. When I started at Juice It Up!, I formulated an alliance between us and Feeding America. Soon, people in the community who recognized the charity began to become more engaged with this little juice brand.”
Defining your target demographic and engaging with them in the outside world is just as important as engaging with them in the digital space, too, Rimassa continued. “Once you can be engaged with these little microclusters of community, more people can fall in love with the brand,” she said.
Finally, most experts and emerging companies agree that a brand is nothing without a good story. While a digital presence and public relations drive people to a brand, the story is what makes them stay.
“Storytelling speaks to authenticity,” said Rimassa. “Any brand can claim success, but it is through customer feedback and personal journeys that a company can really speak to the veracity of their claims. In terms of budget, make sure to carve out a portion that can go towards corporate citizenship in order to drive brand visibility and customer engagement."