Recently, we interviewed franchisees from the QSR, Real Estate, Fitness, and Home Services industries, among others. And, even though their products and services are quite different, their marketing pain points are very similar. Here’s what they told us:
- “We can’t access our logos and marketing materials easily, or at all.”
- “Our marketing should reflect our local markets and we often wait in line for the home office to customize our posts, ads and flyers.”
- “We spend too much time trying to produce our own marketing, and reinvent the wheel, instead of growing our businesses.”
So, why have franchisees' pain points become increasingly apparent, inescapable and well, painful now? The most obvious reason is today's consumers' insatiable demand for fresh, new personalized content. With this, businesses must continually create professional, customized content, mostly digital, and that often includes daily or weekly social posts, email campaigns, blogs, website/landing pages, webinars, podcasts, ebooks, brochures, flyers and the list goes on. Multiply these requirements across a system of 50, 250 or more franchises and you quickly see how challenging it can be to fulfill so many requirements.
Inkbench’s Director of Marketing, Mary DeBonis, knows this terrain well. A franchise marketing veteran for decades, Mary has experienced firsthand the evolution from print and broadcast media to the explosion of digital MarCom. Starting at Cendant, then the world's largest franchisor (now Realogy and Wyndham Worldwide), Mary produced hospitality promotions with printed FunPacks, print ads and commercials featuring Sega, among others. Then, years later, when she was marketing Huntington Learning Center and Mosquito Hunters (Happinest), the shift to digital was in full swing.
“When I first began my marketing career, my team oversaw the printing and fulfillment of promotions and production of TV commercials; now that time is spent strategizing and launching digital campaigns." said DeBonis. There is still an important place for print, but it’s amazing how quickly marketing has evolved to digital.
Now at Inkbench, Mary helps franchise systems with the three "C's" of branding: Consistency, Customization and Control to build cohesive, successful brands. Here are a few important hacks to help the home office and satisfy the marketing needs of franchisees:
Your brand is your most valuable asset and Consistency is critical. So, the home office and franchisees must have easy access to the approved brand assets (logos, fonts, colors, images). A Digital Asset Manager (DAM) enables Zors to store, manage, and share approved brand assets, while also providing Zees with 24/7 access to approved assets. According to DeBonis: "When I was a franchise marketing director, we stored our brand assets on hard drives, shared drives or Google Drives and we would stop often to send logos and digital files to franchisees. And when we emailed large attachments, they often bounced back. There was frustration and wasted productivity on both sides." A DAM gives everyone easy, brand-safe access for optimal brand consistency.
Customization of content is a necessity in today's consumer-driven society. The simplest, least expensive way to customize marketing materials without relying on a designer is a digital Design Canvas. Once templates are built, franchisees can personalize their own ads, posts, flyers or other content. "As a franchise marketing director, it can be a challenge launching marketing campaigns, knowing that customization is needed for the franchisees," said DeBonis. "It becomes a tennis match: Zee lobs the customization request to the home office, then, after working with a designer to customize the social posts or flyers, we lob the piece back; then, the Zee requests final revisions and then we finally send the approved piece back. Match over! Then it's time for a new match with another franchisee." This is where a digital Design Canvas is ideal so franchisees can customize content on demand to fit their needs and markets, on brand.
Brand Controls ensure the home office and franchisees stay on brand using only the approved brand fonts, colors, images, logo(s), and legal copy. Being able to "lock down" brand assets and leave open certain text or image boxes for customization helps brands maintain important control over their assets. "It's important to maintain brand integrity and you don't want anyone going rogue with marketing materials. There are few ways to have Brand Controls in a franchise system, but they are absolutely critical," said DeBonis. A brand management platform allows Zors and Zees to access and create content within one central cloud-based location, while complying to brand standards. You want to avoid keeping your assets in a brand prison. Brand Controls are the simplest way to protect and grow your brand.
Inkbench is a patented brand management platform, built from the ground up by our founder, Steve Goodman for franchisors and enterprise clients. Steve saw the unmet needs and created the solution with an integrated DAM, Design Canvas and Brand Controls with a workflow approval process. When Mary was hired as Director of Marketing, her first comment was, “Where have you been throughout my career?” Now, she is excited to see the positive impact Inkbench is having on today's franchise clients as they easily check the boxes on the three Brand C's--Consistency, Customization and Control.