You don’t have to allocate an enormous budget to get good results and recruit franchisees. But you do have to be clever and plan ahead, says marketing and PR specialist Sarah Dyer from Coconut Creatives.

This is the most ideal time of year to start planning for the year ahead to take advantage of the peaks of the franchise industry. Below, I will briefly look at the main aspects of creating a campaign that maximises budget, measures return on investment and can create the most benefit. In the next few issues of the Select Your Franchise newsletter, I will go into more detail on each aspect.

Planning, planning and more planning
We can’t state enough how important it is to plan your campaigns in advance. Many magazines will offer an early booking or series discount with good free editorial space to those franchisors that can produce well written case studies or interesting, fresh stories. It is often the same for online advertising with deals of booking so many months and getting some free.

It is a well known fact that advertising is best done over a long period of time whether this is on or off line. It builds your brand in the public domain and exposes your key messages to your target audience who will find it increasingly harder to ignore you when they have seen you for the 10th time!

In the franchise industry we have magazines such as Making Money, What Franchise or Business Franchise which are most effective if used more than once. Yet be realistic about this: whether you have £2k or £10k to spend over the year on magazine advertising, then spread it out across several issues to gain regular exposure and always discuss editorial opportunities.

We feel that it is better to have an increased number of slightly smaller adverts with negotiated free editorial space booked in advance, than fewer larger adverts booked at late notice.

Measure your return on investment
A simple spreadsheet is better than nothing when measuring the return on your investment. You can calculate this in several ways. To calculate the worth of free editorial space achieved over any period, it is best to look at the space that you have achieved and work out how much that same space would have cost you if it were paid for advertising space.

Ongoing market research
Again, this doesn’t have to be made into a complicated procedure. We recommend speaking to 5 existing franchisees, 5 that went to interview stage and 5 that were just spoken to on the phone and received information. Ask them all where they looked for information about franchising, how they found your franchise and most importantly ALL the places that they found your franchise that influenced them. They may have finally enquired through your own website and therefore be labelled a ‘website enquiry’ but what you should be interested in is how they found your website. Did they read an article in a magazine? Did they visit an exhibition and collect some literature? Did they read about you online?

If you can continually refine the combination of marketing and communication channels that are used for your franchise recruitment campaign then you will become more and more successful.

Don’t forget…
· Plan your annual franchise recruitment cycle in advance
· Book any advertising in advance to make the most of early space and series discounts
· Offer good quality case studies which are current and interesting
· Track the return on your investment using a simple spreadsheet or system that you are comfortable with (something is better than nothing)
· Always, always ask prospects how they found out about you

Overall, plan ahead to make sure your business doesn’t get left behind…

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