Investing in a franchise is a great way to dial into an already established business framework. New franchisees benefit by buying into a well established customer base, from all-encompassing sector knowledge and a well regarded industry reputation. However, this can all be tricky to get right and you must consider several key areas if you wish to succeed by retaining and building better brand loyalty.
What do we inted by brand loyalty anyway? Brand loyalty is is the positive association consumers attach to a particular product or brand.
Franchises fail with about the same frequency as independent businesses, so to focus on building up brand loyalty can make a huge difference. These are the three key areas to work on:
- public relations
- advertising, and
- promotional activities.
Let’s look at the ways franchise marketing can help you create and cultivate brand loyalty for long-term success.
Highlight Your Brand Values
To ensure people identify with your franchise branding, it’s essential to let them know who you are and what your company stands for. A franchise marketing strategy will look to showcase your brand’s values through social media marketing, video marketing and SEO strategies.
Customers in today’s world are becoming increasingly discerning about the actions and movements of businesses. Research shows that 71% of consumers prefer buying from companies aligned with their values. No longer just a means to an end, customers are buying into certain companies if they market themselves as aligned with the views or morals of their consumers. Loyal customers migh come back to you not only for your high quality product/service, but perhaps because they share the same values are your brand.
Improve Brand Recognition
There are a few steps you can make to help improve your franchise’s brand recognition, whether that’s from a physical product or through an ad campaign. Some brands are so powerful that they only need to hint at a popular theme from a commercial or a highly simplified logo to spark recognition in customers. Examples of powerful branding include Apple’s simple logo, the McDonald’s ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ jingle and Amazon’s arrow.
Appeal to your target audience
The first thing you can do to increase and strengthen brand recognition is to identify and appeal to your target audience. For instance, Pepsi has always been focussed on appealing to the 18 to 35 market and throughout the years its branding has reflected as much.
Consistent packaging and branding
Consistent packaging and branding throughout franchises help customers know what to expect before they even purchase something. Take a coffee franchise as an example.
Customers visiting one store with red branding might take their coffee away in a red cup but in another store, belonging to the same brand at a different location, the cups and branding are blue. It may strike the customer that these two stores are linked in name only as their branding and packaging don’t match up.
You don’t want to leave any room for confusion when it comes to franchise marketing, so everything must be consistent. This may be more likely to occur in smaller, less established franchises as the major players already ensure franchisees are equipped with the right branding from the off.
However, even then it’s not perfect. Some large brands regularly update their logos, mottos and branding so these changes must be rolled out to all franchises. Again, customer loyalty will be put to the test if they feel like a franchise with outdated merchandising isn’t part of the main brand.
Encourage customer feedback
Customer feedback is essential for improving your relationships and brand loyalty through excellent customer service. What better way for customers to buy into your brand than by allowing them to have an impact on how it is run?
Asking for feedback at every given opportunity highlights areas you can improve while providing testimonials you can share on your website. Those shared testimonials help customers feel a part of your brand if they share in the positive reviews others have left.
Quality Customer Service Goes a Long Way
Great customer service is a two-way street and not only does it make consumers feel more loyal to your brand but it also improves employee morale. A study discovered that 69% of employees say they work harder when they feel the work that they do is appreciated.
Happy customers are also more likely to refer your brand to others. And, given that recommendations from friends are seen as one of the most credible forms of advertising, it pays to give great customer service (it is likely to affect your customer retention positively as well).
Keep it Consistent on Social Media
Customers want to see their favorite brands actively participating on their social media platforms. Directly interacting with your customers through social media is another great way to build brand loyalty.
62% of millennials say that if a brand engages them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. A quick response time to direct communications from customers on social media is looked upon favorably.
Avoid mixed messages
Public relations are crucial for successful franchise marketing. One way to strengthen your branding through franchise marketing is to stick to the script. This means to keep social media communications throughout all of your platforms and through its various formats consistent.
Once people have bought into your brand and marketing, they don’t want things to suddenly change without warning. If you wish for your customers to become more loyal, then you must stay loyal to the message you are putting out there.
Local Strategies to Connect on a Deeper Level
Depending on the type of franchise you are running, your local customers could be your bread and butter clients. They may be the ones who see you through the quiet times, as well as the busy.
Creating a local marketing plan can help your brand to resonate with people in specific locations. You can use social media to target those customers while also considering the effects that SEO, images, videos and articles can have.
Ultimately, your customers are the life and soul of your franchise. They don’t want to be treated as little more than a commodity, so focusing your attention on the customer is vital for maintaining brand loyalty.
Customer-focused events, such as workshops, taster days or in-store deals and discounts for your neighbors build deeper connections. They show your customers that you are interested in more than just money from them and that you value their custom.
Customer loyalty schemes
One of the best ways for customers to feel like they are a vital part of your brand’s success is through brand loyalty schemes or a rewards program. What better way to build customer loyalty than to reward it?
Many coffee shops and pubs use loyalty cards that offer a free drink after 10 stamps have been collected. A loyalty program gives your current customers an incentive to keep coming back for more.
A final word
Building brand loyalty in franchise marketing is not always an easy task – it takes time to put together a strategy and test the results. Now it’s your turn to put in place these tips and channel your marketing efforts into building brand loyalty.
Bonus tip for franchises: the most important marketing tip for a franchise is to keep consistency between your brand image and your localized marketing strategy. Read this blog to learn how to balance between your franchisor and franchisee realities.