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Growing Your Franchise With E-Mail Marketing

Whether you're a franchisor building a national network or just opening your first store, e-mail marketing could be the most powerful tool in your sales arsenal.

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From florists to sandwich shops, fitness centers to footwear sellers, house cleaners to package shippers, franchisors and franchisees share a common vision and mission. Their goals are to:

  • Promote the brand,
  • Communicate a consistent, compelling message,
  • Build customer relationships,
  • Drive repeat sales, and
  • Bring in a profitable ROI.

E-mail marketing empowers franchises of all shapes and sizes to meet these objectives. It gives them the means to leverage their brands and communicate with customers for fractions of a penny per touch. Franchisors can control corporate branding standards and marketing messages while they guide and support franchisees' local customer-communications efforts.

Someone once said, "All real estate is local." I might say the same about franchises, in that all sales are local. While consumers develop loyalty to their favorite national brands, customers in different geographic and demographic markets have different needs, desires and interests. They build relationships with a local franchise owner they trust--someone who makes the national brand seem friendly, accessible and dependable.

Franchisors have the know-how to create the grand marketing plans, while franchisees are evangelists for the corporate banners they fly. That's why locally targeted e-mail communications are vital to building a healthy franchise, one store, one customer at a time. That boosts the bottom line for franchisors and franchisees alike. Here's why e-mail marketing could be the most powerful tool you can use to grow your franchise:

Franchisors know how to most effectively promote their product or service, and they need to control how their brand is positioned and portrayed in the marketplace. A professional e-mail marketing service with easy-to-use templates allows franchisors to set brand standards and design effective e-mail campaigns while allowing franchisees to customize local content and build customer relationships.

Here's how it works: As the franchisor, you set the marketing communications calendar for your franchisees based on the seasons, holidays, business or life events that are relevant to your business. Based on that calendar, you then create e-mail marketing templates using your brand standards and professionally written content and offers. (Some businesses send out e-mail newsletters as often as bimonthly, others only quarterly. Monthly is a good frequency to stay in contact with your customers.)

As the template author, you can decide what content is customizable and what is fixed, and you can leave space open for local content. Your franchisees then take your corporate-branded e-mail marketing templates and add locally relevant content (events, special promotions, store hours, locations and so on) and a bit of personal style to the e-mail message. (My article, "Creating Newsletter Content" , offers more ideas on what to include in e-mail marketing communications.)

By providing a centralized e-mail marketing strategy with local execution, you can control your brand and message while allowing franchisees to build local relationships and manage their own e-mail lists. Just why should they manage their own lists? Because your franchisees are in the best position to build and maintain their own customer contacts. As they gather prospects and customers, they should gather contact information so they can communicate with their growing network. With a great mailing list, they can reach out to their customers with information and offers that drive repeat business.

When franchisors provide e-mail marketing templates to franchisees, they control brand image and reduce the risk of their brand being misrepresented. And they give their franchisees professionally designed and well-written e-mail campaigns. When franchisees use the corporate e-mail campaigns to communicate with their customers, they get a professional marketing tool (with local execution) to retain loyal customers, attract new prospects, accelerate sales and fuel franchise profits. That fosters win-win relationships all around--for the franchisee and the national franchise, and for the customer and the brand.