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What Every Franchisor Should Know About National Marketing Funds

March 11, 2018 // Lora Kellogg

Wood refinishing business N-Hance has launched a new national brand marketing fund to support its franchisees. The company chose to focus on efforts that keep brand messaging consistent while ensuring individual locations receive adequate support.

According to N-Hance, the new ad fund is driving impressive results. Company web traffic is up 50 percent, and new television commercials have created a 72 percent boost in pay-per-click activity as consumers search for the company after seeing its commercials.

For franchises, national ad funds benefit both the corporate entity and its franchisees. When optimized, these funds become powerful tools for growth.

Key uses of national funds

Every national ad fund should cover five essential elements to support franchise marketing: website, search, local listings lock, remarketing, and creative assets.

A modern, responsive website must be a priority for every franchise. Franchisee microsites must be able to go live quickly as a franchise grows and must be user-friendly on any device. Ad fund money also should be used for search engine optimization, as it lays a strong foundation for paid search campaigns.

All of a franchise’s locations can capitalize on search traffic by running local search campaigns that coordinate with corporate campaigns. Geotargeting can help ensure funds are distributed fairly across all locations. Search term exclusion lists ensure that national and local search campaigns don’t compete with each other.

When franchises don’t lock local listings for their franchisees, our experience shows that up to 40 percent of locations fail to keep their information current. By using the ad fund to manage and lock these listings, franchisors can keep information consistent across locations and strengthen SEO through smart web design.

Customers who visit a franchise site but have not converted can be targeted for remarketing. They have expressed interest in the brand, so franchises should use the ad fund to keep brand messaging in front of these consumers until they are ready to make a purchasing decision.

Finally, ad fund dollars can be used to produce strong creative assets, from videos to images to digital ads. Franchises can build creative packages and make the assets available to franchisees. This keeps branding consistent and sharp across locations while allowing franchisees to speak to their communities.

How to make the most of a national fund

To turn a national ad fund into a powerful marketing tool, follow these 5 tips:

1. Align deliverables with priorities

Determine the primary goal, and ensure ad fund deliverables tie into that goal. Budgets naturally carry limitations, even when all franchisees contribute 1 to 2 percent, so focus on a few key areas such as branding, web, search, and campaigns that drive conversions.

2. Demonstrate value to franchisees

Show franchisees what the fund accomplishes and how their investments deliver ROI. Communicate clearly and often, especially about where the money goes. When you apply it toward global or corporate projects, outline how that benefits franchisees. N-Hance, for example, collects and publishes data on its fund’s performance, keeping franchisees happy and encouraging further cooperation.

3. Offer supplemental marketing opportunities

National ad fund marketing provides a strong base on which franchisees can layer local ads. Work with preferred vendors to design options for local franchisees to bring location-specific angles to brand-wide campaigns. Keep branding consistent by providing creative assets to preferred vendors to use in local campaigns.

4. Review and adapt

Evaluate the effectiveness of the fund. What is the ROI on advertising dollars? What gaps need filling? Which pieces should be cut, and which new opportunities deserve exploration? Ask these essential questions regularly, especially as the fund grows, to keep the fund as effective as possible.

5. Maintain a strong relationship with the franchise advisory council

Work with your FAC at every juncture to maximize transparency. Listen to your franchisees’ local needs, and present their concerns to the FAC. Allow the FAC to offer its input on how best to use your national ad fund to benefit both your franchisees and your company as a whole.

Managing a national ad fund is tricky, but done right, these pools benefit franchisor and franchisees alike. Follow these tips to turn an ad fund into a strong, cooperative tool that can boost web traffic, drive in-store visits, and increase sales.

Lora Kellogg is president and CEO of Curious Jane. With nearly 15 years of experience and a portfolio of top brands, Curious Jane is a leading ad agency specializing in franchises. She and her team work with established and emerging franchises to grow sales, increase traffic, build brand awareness, and generate leads.

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