Want to join the entrepreneurship pool fast? The answer could lie in franchising, one of the strongest startup sectors. Although restaurant franchises get heavy-duty billing thanks to their intense advertising, service-based counterparts like car repair and housecleaning are just as lucrative, the latter growing by 2.3 percent in 2016.

Of course, franchises aren't set-it-and-forget-it ventures. To appeal to consumers, as well as to conform to national franchisor standards, franchisees absolutely need to make their own dives into the marketing world. Agile contemporary franchise marketing not only opens doors to consistently growing profit margins for franchises, but it also keeps the whole industry thriving.

Is marketing not your forte? Get your feet wet the easy way by following some tried-and-true methods to buoy your base and attract new buyers.

1. Embrace social media marketing strategies.

Your target personas are apt to be on social media, so make sure your advertisements are on those platforms, too. As Lora Kellogg, founder and CEO of franchise marketing agency Curious Jane, notes, it's important for franchisees to "supplement national advertising with local advertising in both pay-per-click campaigns and social media ads."

Kellogg recommends using franchisor-approved creative messaging content alongside local deals to retain brand identity while bulking social placement. Over time, routine exposure on social platforms will enhance your branding efforts with potential customers.

2. Practice the art of stellar customer service.

What separates your franchise from another? It's about more than your menu of options or prices. It's in how you treat your patrons before, during, and after their experiences. Every business owner knows that current customers are easier to engage than future customers, so when you get a new customer, treat him or her like gold.

This type of customer service fosters a strong relationship. Additionally, it makes your franchise feel localized, not simply an extension of a national brand. As you elevate your customer service, your consumers will reward you by coming back and referring your franchise to others.

3. Build a social community.

Allstate is a prime example of a franchise that developed a social branding model that works for both the national franchisor and individual franchisee. On the Allstate national social sites, tips are routinely pushed out to the public. Franchises can then supplement these nationally driven items with localized events, meetings, and causes.

Show your followers that you're committed to them and not just the franchisor. Tweet about donations you make to the local economy, and post images that position your franchise as being grounded in regional activities.

4. Encourages online reviews.

We've all looked to Google, Yelp, Amazon, the Better Business Bureau and other review sites to get the inside scoop on a product or service. In fact, nearly eight in 10 consumers find online reviews to be trustworthy. For a business, lacking online customer reviews is as bad as having poor ones, so invite your favorite loyalists to talk about your franchise on the web.

Of course, you can't control what's said in reviews; you can only monitor them to mitigate questionable ones quickly. At the same time, you can build a bevy of testimonials that you can also display on your website.

5. Take advantage of incentives.

Ramada knows what it's doing when it comes to incentivizing its champions. Because the hotel chain has such a far-reaching number of franchises, it can boast top-notch loyalty membership perks. Even if your franchise isn't as big, you can still sign up customers for programs that reward them for their patronage.

For instance, coupons via direct mail, text, or email put your franchise into the path of your consumers. Even if they weren't planning to buy from you immediately, your messages may encourage them to act sooner.

Even well-known franchises need fresh, non-formulaic marketing to gain toeholds with their target audiences. With franchisee-specific marketing tactics, they can ensure the best chances of long-term success.

Published on: Mar 26, 2018