You might be part of a franchise, but the truth is you’re in charge of your own success. What’s in your franchise marketing plan can be the catalyst or inhibitor to a profitable business.

As a business owner, marketing your franchise is one of your most important duties. Even if your parent company is handling most of the marketing for you, it’s up to you to uphold the right image and put your best foot forward in your community.

These seven common mistakes can sabotage your franchise marketing plan – avoid them at all costs:

Mistake #1 – Your Franchise Marketing Plan is Nonexistent

Your parent franchise company is likely doing plenty of marketing to build a worthy brand, and you get to enjoy the fruits of their labor. However, you still need to have your own franchise marketing plan to create a buzz in your local market.

As a business owner, you’re responsible for every piece of your operation, including marketing. If you find that you don’t have the time, energy, or know-how to promote your business, consider hiring a part-time marketing rep or outsourcing what you can’t do to a marketing company.

It’s an extra expense, but the goal is to turn that expense into a profit center that will pay for itself multifold. Not having a franchise marketing plan leaves money on the table, so invest your time and efforts wisely.

Mistake #2 – Your Marketing is Off-Brand

If you’re a franchise owner, you’ve bought into a company with an existing brand. It’s up to you to ensure that your actions, from marketing to service to products to decor, match the brand they’ve already established.

It’s easy for franchise owners to gravitate toward their own preferences, especially if they feel a specific promotion would go over well in their market.

However, before you invest in any marketing, check with your franchise guidelines. Your company may have stipulations about what kind of marketing you can do, how much you can spend, and how to treat the brand.

The last thing you want is to create a marketing campaign that makes it look like you’re not affiliated with your parent company. This can cause lasting damage to your store and your head company.

Mistake #3 – You Don’t Have a Location-Specific Online Presence

Your parent franchise company may have a corporate website or social media pages, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have your own.

At the very least, you should claim your Google My Business listing and other free online directories so that people in your local area can find you. A Facebook page is fairly standard these days, but you can include other social media platforms into your mix for increased exposure.

In addition, you should create a website for your location. Check with your corporate office to see if they offer location-specific website services. If so, this will be your best option to create a consistent brand image for your franchise.

Mistake #4 – You Aren’t Engaged in Social Media

There’s a difference between having social media profiles and being fully engaged with them.

Facebook and other social media networks offer huge opportunities for businesses.

For starters, social media is completely free to use (other than your time investment).

You can connect with new audience members, build loyalty with customers, respond to questions and reviews, promote specials or sales, list your business hours and contact information, and other activities.

You might be surprised to know that many people will scope you out on Facebook before stepping foot into your store. They want to know if you’re worth their time and money, and they feel social media is the living proof.

Mistake #5 – You Don’t Take Advantage of Corporate Marketing Materials

One of the best parts of owning a franchise is being in business for yourself, but not by yourself. That is, you don’t have to do everything on your own.

Your parent franchise company should be your first resource for marketing materials. They have the talent and the budget to create collateral and promotions that help promote the brand as a whole.

Start by seeing what materials and resources are available to franchise owners. You may be able to acquire funds to fuel your local campaigns, such as a billboard, newspaper ad, mailers, or coupons.

Most franchises offer marketing services to their franchisees, but owners have to ask for them. Don’t be shy.

Mistake #6 – You Ignore Reviews

Google and social media reviews are go-to resources when it comes to helping people discover your business. For this reason alone, online reviews should be a mainstay in your franchise marketing plan.

Whether you like it or not, people are talking about your brand online. They will leave you star-ratings and reviews to share their experience with others.

While you can’t prevent someone from leaving a negative review, you can help you shine a positive light on your brand by responding to those who comment. Sometimes, how you handle a situation can be the deciding factor as to whether someone will do business with you again.

Don’t just limit your responses to bad reviews, either. Typing out a Thank You for their review helps to humanize your brand and make you look less like a corporate entity. They get a personalized experience, and you earn a loyal customer.

Mistake #7 – You Fail to Prioritize All Areas of Marketing

For many business owners, marketing is considered something you actively pursue. This thought isn’t just wrong, it’s dangerous.

Marketing isn’t just a set of tasks. It’s your logo, company colors, phone greeting, uniforms, employee attitudes, decor, and everything else that works together to build a consistent brand.

When these things don’t function as a whole, you’re marketing inconsistency and confusion rather than the clean, well-honed franchise you bought into.

Every customer and employee experience is your chance to shape the right perception. When all the fine details align, your brand wields a power that’s hard to ignore.

In Closing

Having a franchise helps you avoid some of the risks involved in building a business from the ground up. Don’t throw away your investment with an ill-conceived franchise marketing plan that dooms your success from the start.

For more marketing resources to help you run a better business, visit the Buzzhive Marketing blog.