Franchising is a model that doesn’t quite fit well into a discretionary category, which makes franchise Martech decisions challenging. Take a look at the following attempts:
- Q: Is it a small business? A: Kind of – the franchisees are often small businesses, and sometimes the franchisor itself is a small business. But at the same time, a franchise can have many employees, and many business needs.
- Q: Is it like a multi-location corporation? A: In some ways, but an important distinction is that franchisees are not employees, so you get the benefit of the entrepreneurial drive, but getting things to work and the brand looking consistent can be like herding cats.
- Q: Is it like an association of independent businesses? A: There is a connection among the owners, but they are not independent, since they share a brand and a process.
So – franchising is in a league of its own. And comparing it to other models, as you need to do sometimes when you are trying to purchase technology created for those outside of the franchising community, can be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Franchise Martech Blueprint
Making purchasing decisions in terms of Marketing creates another challenge. Since there is a continuum among how franchisors manage their businesses.
- Centralized (Hard Franchise): In this model, the marketing and communications decisions are made centrally, with little input from the franchisees.
- Decentralizd (Soft Franchise): Conversely, in this model, the franchisees are instrumental in their own marketing happen.
Added to the two above, is a mixed approach, which attempts to have the best of both worlds. For example, a mixed model may have central content marketing, and decentralized events.
Franchise Martech Blueprint Visualized
- BMS: Brand Management System — this is a tool that helps franchisees build their own marketing materials online
- Brand Guide/Portal: A guide, online or off, that outlines logo, type, message pillars and more
- CMS: Content Management System — this is a system that allows someone to type in their own specialized content, within a template, typically creating a website or blog.
- CRM: Customer Relationship Management — this is a database-based system of customers and prospects, used for communications
- Graphic Design Tools: Tools to create graphics easily
Marketing and Technology Trends
As trends continue to evolve, franchisors have to keep up. Here are some trends to look out for as you build your blueprint:
- Video: Both the polished and spontaneous sort of videos are becoming more relevant on social media and online in general. Polished videos are great for a professional Marketing department, and spontaneous, local ones are best for local franchisees, with a branding guide.
- Tools and Outsourcing: Over the years, Marketing teams and the associated contractors have been shrinking. Graphic Design Tools, and simple apps have slowly been replacing professionals. Additionally, as the online workplace gets more sophisticated, inexpensive contractors can be used for administrative, research and data entry jobs. Strategic work can also be done via professional talent communities. Using this strategy centrally is a best practice, at this time.
- Chat: Although chat and SMS software has been around for a while, time-strapped consumers are asking for it more and more. Chat is an element that can be done both centrally and in a decentralized way. This helps communicate with both prospects and current customers, as a support tool.
Defining Your Technology Blueprint
When defining your technology blueprint, you want to think about your Marketing Mix, just as you would in any business. An added layer, is asking if you want to be centralized or decentralized. Each one has its own strengths and pitfalls.
- Centralized: The advantage of this is a greater degree of brand consistency. However, if the franchisees are not engaged in the programs, they may be less likely to follow them. It can also lead to a “blame game” between franchisor and franchisee in terms of marketing effectiveness.
- Decentralized: The advantage of this is it empowers the franchisees to have an entrepreneurial spirit. The downside is a lack of brand consistency, or even franchisees who do not participate in marketing their own businesses.
As you think through the blueprint, you may think it is quite complex, and it is. The name of today’s marketing game is to do more with less, and franchisors are feeling it as well. So, instead of having a great team full of experts, franchisors are looking for strong individual performers, who can wear many hats. Think of Prince, playing all of the instruments, rather than an orchestra. Although this creates challenges in terms of people growing within the organization, it is an economic reality.
Look to the Future
If you are looking for brand consistency tools to make your locations look the same across the nation and around the world, check our Brand Consistency tools including our Field Audit App.