Once upon a time, the term “advertise” mostly meant print. Whilst print is still an option today, printed advertising is becoming more and more dated. Newspapers haven’t taken off with the new generation – Gen Z – with online advertising being the trend now. When you look to target new franchisees in 2024, the majority of your interest will be from Gen Z – birth years from around 1990s onwards – the years who of which will have grown up with smartphones, tablets and computers. Newspapers and magazines will have formed little interest in their life, and whilst printed advertising in magazines and newspapers is still good for franchise recruitment, your lead profiles will likely be in the older age groups. And even if you did do a franchise ad in a newspaper, lets face it, they’re going to need to use technology during the recruitment process anyway, maybe even to express interest.
Today, advertising your franchise effectively is a whole new ball game, with plenty of opportunities around every corner. Let’s take a look at some of the free ways to advertise your franchise opportunity.
Print in newspapers and magazines will likely be expensive. But one of the best ways to advertise your franchise with minimal cost, if not free, is to design a flyer. There are plenty of tools and software out there, many available for free such as Canva, which you can use to design a franchise flyer. Create a franchise flyer that tells people about the benefits of your franchise business model and hand it out to your clients. If you operate your business in a storefront retail premises, make the leaflets available on the counter or on a pin board.
Printing some Canva leaflets that you’ve designed yourself really shouldn’t cost much. All you need is a printer and some ink, and most newsagents will let you print for very small cost if you don’t have a printer yourself. Make these A5 flyers available to your clients. If a client has accessed your services first hand, they’re more likely to be interested than someone who has read your profile online or in a magazine. They’ll know exactly what you do and how you do it, and if they like it, they may be interested in doing it for themselves.
A lot of supermarkets and councils also have notice boards, so enquire with them to find out the cost of advertising there. Some pathways may be free.
If you’re already an established franchise with multiple franchisees, why not ask them to display your franchising flyers or posters too?
Franchise Exhibitions and Trade Shows
If you work with a franchise consultant, speak to them about their attendance to events such as Franchise Exhibitions. If they have a stand or are collaborating with another brand, ask them whether it would be possible for them to hand out flyers on your behalf. Some shows can charge upwards of £4000 for a show stand, and partnering with consultants can maximise your exposure whilst minimising your costs. Franchise consultants typically work on a commission per conversion basis, meaning they’re likely going to be in favour of actions on their part that will help to convert you more leads. If it means handing out leaflets for you (free), it will still be beneficial for them if it converts a franchisee and they get paid commission.
Your Own Website!
Every franchise business should have a website. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a dedicated website for the franchise. It could just be a link to a franchising page from your footer or menu. A franchise page on your website tells people that your business is available as a franchise. If someone wants to specifically invest in your business, they’ll look for your website and then look for the franchise page on your site. If you don’t have one, people might think you aren’t franchising.
Ideally, each of your franchisees should have their own website as well, if not, a dedicated page on your main website. If you run an oven cleaning franchise, you should ideally have links to franchisees pages for each area, with contact details and services. This helps not only your franchisees, but it shows that you make an effort to promote your network.
Adding a franchise page to your website shouldn’t come with any cost, unless you outsource your website development. Web hosting should already be accounted for with your business running expenses.
Once you’ve got a franchise page on your website, you can write articles about your franchisees on your blog and link to the franchise page. This will help improve your website SEO because linking to a franchise page using franchising related keywords tells search engines that the page is about franchising. Try to vary your terms to include industry keywords too (like dog walking, oven cleaning – whichever are relevant) – this will help you to establish prominence for more generic terms too other than your brand name, making brand discovery more likely.
Franchise and Business Directories
Most franchise and business directory advertising websites will offer some form of free plan, like Franchise Planet (this website) does. Free plans are usually rather limited so may not offer links to your own website, but that doesn’t matter. Because by adding profiles on as many directories as possible, you’re increasing your brand’s awareness in the franchising sector. By listing your franchise in as many free or paid directories as possible, you’ll be increasing awareness of your brand which will in turn benefit you, your franchisees and your SEO.
It is widely recognised amongst SEO professionals that clicks through organic search results through to your website help your website to rank better. This is opposed to someone directly visiting your website from a link from another website. Some say clicking a search result to your website (eg by searching your brand name) can help you rank more effectively for that term. Of course, search engine’s ranking algorithms are a big secret and nobody knows for sure, but it can be said in confidence that search engines will know what you’re clicking on, and if lots of people click on a particular result, search engines will consider that link to be a good authoritive source of what they have searched for.
So by adding free directory listings – either with a link (to boost your SEO backlink profile) or without a link (to boost brand awareness and organic site traffic) are beneficial in the long run.
Many franchise directories rank on page one for common franchising related search terms. By not advertising with a franchise portal, you’re missing out on considerable exposure. Exposure that leads to brand discovery.
Promote Your Franchise on Social Media
Every franchisor should have a social media profile, and so should their franchisees. By having a social media profile, franchises can engage with their local community. Establishing a local presence is important for franchisees. After all, it is the responsibility of the franchisee to market their business effectively in their area. That will include setting up (if you don’t do this for them) a company Twitter and Facebook page. Instagram and TikTok profiles can also be useful as these are typically more prominent with Gen-Z over LinkedIn.
It costs nothing to post on social media. Franchisors and franchisees should regularly showcase their work, for example oven cleaning, car valeting – whatever the business is about. Regular social media posts help to keep you and your franchisees engaged within the community and not forgotten.
And social media can be used to promote your franchise opportunity online. One or two tweets about your franchise opportunity is enough every couple of months. Even just leaving it as a pinned tweet / post is good enough. So you’re not inundating people and making your franchise advertising sound “pushy”.
Join a Franchise Association
Joining a franchise association will likely NOT be free, but within the membership should come various advertising opportunities. You should expect to receive a directory listing included as part of your membership. This helps people who come to the association looking for a trusted franchise, to find you. You may find that there are franchise directories and consultants who are members of that franchise association, who might be offering discounts or free trials on their products and services, exclusive to association members. Take time and explore the opportunities within various franchise associations and see what they offer.
Offer Reciprocal Services
In order to be successful, you need to be seen. And that applies to other businesses as well. You may find that you can receive advertising or brand promotion in exchange for offering your services to another business. For example if your franchise operates in the web design and marketing sector, you could offer your clients a discounted rate in exchange for some recognition on their part. Maybe a blog post or a link from their website to aid your SEO. This will lead to improved web visits on your part.
The same can be said for franchise exhibitions. Show organisers are always interested in increasing their footfall, and you may be able to get some exposure either on their show website as a sponsor, a speaking opportunity at the show, or even a free stand in exchange for promoting the show. This can be utilised to promote your franchise opportunity.
Free Franchise Advertising in Summary
There are many ways to promote your franchise opportunity online. The more your opportunity gets seen, the better it will stand out as an established business opportunity. It is important to have a franchise page on your website, because if anyone researches your brand in due diligence, they’ll want to know more about your company, where you’re based and what you do. They’ll also want to know if their territory has already been snapped up by another franchisee. Prospects will check out your social media pages as well. They’ll want to know how active you are, how active franchisees are and they can use social media to gauge the effectiveness of the brand on a local scale. If a local franchisee has a lot of followers and a lot of social media engagement, it will have a positive impact on their decision to invest in the franchise.
Make your franchise really stand out and see what opportunities you can implement from this article.