How to Handle Franchise Messaging During COVID-19

Franchise restaurant owner uses computer in dining roomIt can be challenging to implement effective communication at each level of a franchise, even in a normal year.

And so far, this year has been anything but normal. COVID-19 has rendered many aspects of life unpredictable, increasing the need for active franchise messaging.

When it comes to executing marketing campaigns as a franchisor, one of your top concerns is balancing brand consistency with the freedom for franchisees to customize for their local markets.

During COVID-19, this balance is even more significant as public health measures vary across states, counties, and cities. Mask mandates, partial or even complete shutdowns, and building capacity limits differ from place to place, yet your brand needs to deliver a consistent message during uncertain times.

How can franchisors implement messaging that allows for localized freedom at the franchisee level and ultimate control at the franchisor’s level? It may surprise you, but the answer is found in email marketing.

Consider an Email Marketing Solution

Every marketing channel has its unique reach and specific targeting capabilities. For example, a social media account can reflect a brand’s voice on a broad scale but may come off as impersonal to the local levels of a franchise.

For reaching mass amounts of people directly, few options compare to email marketing. Emails serve as a more personal form of contact available at the convenience of the recipient. In contrast to a social media feed, emails can be sent to specific segments of your contact list, ensuring that each subscriber receives relevant messages in their inbox.

Managing your email marketing efforts is most efficiently done by partnering with certified experts. Email service providers can help you craft messaging that accommodates the needs of franchisees while staying on brand.

Provide a Consistent Message

Why is it so important to have consistency in your messaging? Most of the time, it comes down to trust. A message that deviates too far from your usual content can create confusion among the audience, and your underlying message probably won’t get across. This might even put you at risk of being marked as spam or sent to the unsubscribe list.

In light of COVID-19, it’s critical to demonstrate a consistent response. How is your brand reacting to public health measures? Are your corporate-level initiatives that will affect your franchisees and your whole customer base, conveying empathy?

Another key reason for consistency is to remain at the forefront of consumers’ minds in times of unrest, as COVID continues to be a threat we all face. If a physical location is closed or under limited operations, you’ll want to recommend alternative options you may have available, like digital shopping or curbside pickup, to your customers. You can keep building brand familiarity with your audience by maintaining a consistent voice and pointing them toward relevant information.

Allow for Customization

As crucial as consistency is in franchise messaging, customization is what produces results. Personalized emails can yield open rates almost 30 percent higher than generic email messages. During a global pandemic, the need for customization multiplies exponentially.

As every state and county has its own health department, the protocols surrounding COVID-19 can impact franchisees in very different ways. This could mean that some franchise locations may not be allowed to open, while others may have minimal public health mandates in place.

Through an email marketing service, you can deliver franchisee-level messages that specifically address local markets. Each email sent maintains the corporate branding and messaging specifications you need, while giving franchisees the flexibility to add local announcements, hours, and specially-crafted wording.

 COVID-19 has created a greater need than ever for franchisees to evaluate their communication and marketing efforts. While you’re navigating how to reach all your points of contact, consider email marketing services to help you find the middle ground between consistency and customization.

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