Having the support of a recognized brand, proven methodology, trademarks, and proprietary information does a great job of removing a lot of the uncertainty attached to opening a new business - And becomes that much more valuable when you and your investors are trying to break ground in a new, unfamiliar marketplace.
With the franchising numbers coming out of South Africa – contributing 13,3% to the country's GDP – the sector is poised to play a massive role in furthering business development, skill transfer, and job creation in the country.
As well as providing plenty of opportunities for profit.
However, the struggle to conduct effective franchise marketing in unfamiliar lands remains a challenging proposition. So, we sat down with Guy Sheetrit – CEO of Over The Top SEO and Franchise Marketing specialist – to glean some insights into the challenges potential franchisees and franchisors will have to deal with as they try to break out into the South African Franchise world
"Inconsistent branding is one of the most common elements that can undermine a new franchise. And that's true whether you are in South Africa, China, or the U.S."
When it comes to franchise marketing, the primary appeal lies in having a strong brand identity backing your business up from the get-go. One that customers can instantly identify and connect with on a personal level. That's an incredibly powerful tool if leveraged correctly.
"And yet, over and over again, you see new franchisees undermining their marketing efforts with inconsistent branding. Weakening their message and losing one of the cornerstone advantages that drove them to that franchise in the first place!"
Brand identity is there to create familiarity between your audience and your business. And while in other setups it might be a great move to find ways to differentiate your particular business from the rest, in franchising will only serve to hurt it.
The last thing you want is for your clients to go away disappointed, feeling they aren't getting "the real deal."
Divorcing your marketing from local trends
"Not paying attention to local trends is a great way to lose money on international franchising. You are just missing out on leveraging campaigns that are relevant to local consumers."
Since globalization began a few decades ago, marketers have become painfully aware of how powerful a strategy localization can be. The advent of digital marketing and SEO has done nothing but double down on those effects.
"Local marketing is insane right now. And I mean that both in the regional and seasonal sense. Local SEO is giving us the opportunity to promote businesses and deliver results in record times, and seasonal campaigns can have compounding effects if you time them right. All of this is applicable to a new franchise in South Africa if you have a team with the know-how to execute it."
Seizing the opportunity to use local trends to attract your audience is an excellent mechanism to foster trust and widespread acceptance from a market. Personalizing your franchise message to form a bond with the locals can have an amazing effect on your marketing when done right.
"Nothing sours a franchisor/franchisee relationship faster than having divergent marketing goals and objectives. It's a problem that's can quickly spiral out of control if left unattended."
Established franchises often do a great job of providing updated, clear information on how things ought to be. However, breakdowns in communications, lack of understanding, or an outright disagreement in marketing strategies can be very problematic.
"When a franchisee and franchisor don't see eye-to-eye in the way to market their product, what follows is often a breakdown in the communication and support between HQ and the franchisee's location. Know what you are getting into beforehand, and make sure you understand the fine print of the franchise marketing parameters set by the headquarters."
Preparation and attention to detail are your best tools here. Once those are covered, an effort to maintain communication with your franchisor is always the way to go. Enlisting the help of a marketing team capable of understanding – and working within – the minutia of a franchisor regulation is also a great way to avoid these issues.
A lack of content
"Content is the lynchpin upon which you build your franchise marketing strategy. Neglect it, and the whole thing can unravel frighteningly quickly."
You need content tying the knot between your newly acquired brand and your fledgling customer base if you are going to open a franchise in South Africa. Otherwise, you'll find it impossible to stay present in your audience's mind, and that would eat into your potential growth, big time.
"While this isn't a problem exclusive to international franchises, it is often somewhat aggravated when you are working across cultures. An unprepared business can suffer from delays and slower turn-over times when it comes to content output."
Ensuring a stream of relevant, current content that appeals to potential customers in your new area of operations is vital to your franchise. Otherwise, the brand awareness your franchise brings along will fail to synergise with your regular client-nurturing strategy and go to waste.
Neglecting your location's individual marketing strategy
"It is one thing to enjoy the weight of brand recognition that your franchise brings along. It is another thing entirely, to think that'd be enough as far as franchise marketing goes."
Lacking a formalised marketing workflow for your particular location – beyond the general franchise marketing efforts – is a recipe for disaster.
"McDonald's doesn't stay the most recognized fast-food chain across the globe on legacy alone. And that local McDonald's a few blocks from your work or home isn't pack come lunch hour just because there's a big M above it. Franchises, especially international ones, have to work consistently in executing a strategic franchise marketing plan from day one. Depending on brand recognition alone is a great way risk losing your investment sooner rather than later."
Neglecting your digital marketing strategy will have you, at best, wasting time on unnecessary marketing plans that go nowhere, and at worse, having your location fall by the wayside forgotten.
Bringing in R721bn through 845 franchise systems, the franchising landscape for South Africa can't look more appetizing for investors that want to seize the opportunity. Despite the current tough economic climate in the region, buying into local franchises there still presents a lower risk of failure or loss of investment than starting a business from scratch.
However, if success is really on your mind, you need to keep present your franchise marketing efforts! As well as consciously avoid falling on the trappings we've discussed here.
Franchise opportunities in South Africa aren't just attractive for locals, but the global audience's eyes are paying close attention too.
This means that a solid marketing strategy can give you the edge you might need to be the one that comes out on top.