Storytelling: The Secret Sauce To Franchise Marketing

The Secret Sauce To Franchise Marketing

Want to build your brand, make sales, grow your business? You’ve got to engage your audience’s head AND heart.  In this blog post, we’ll explain how ‘storytelling’ isn’t just for bedtimes.

Franchise marketing can have various goals: to make sales, to gain customers, to build awareness, or other objectives. But believe it or not, all those goals are secondary. Our first goal is to entertain. If you don’t interest your audience, achieving your goals will be harder than it has to be.

That’s where “storytelling” comes into play. This isn’t about reading One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish before bed — it’s about a marketing strategy that cuts through the noise and deposits your messaging where it’ll have the greatest impact: in your customer’s heart.

In this blog post, we’ll give you the rundown on storytelling marketing, and how savvy franchisors can maximize on their marketing investments. Read on:


Read This: Mastering the Fundamentals of Franchise Marketing

What Is Storytelling?

In marketing, storytelling is the practice of using story and narrative to connect emotionally with your audience. Storytelling is a fundamental part of being human. Chances are, you’ve already shared a few stories with friends and colleagues today. Later, when you finish work, you will likely watch more stories on Netflix. 

Trading stories is how people get to know each other, remember important details, and learn shared values. We use stories to teach our kids and entertain our friends. So it’s not really a big leap to use stories to sell our business to people, too.

In brand storytelling, you build a brand identity by connecting everything you’re doing with your marketing to a consistent central narrative, so that consumers carry that story around with them wherever they go, and remember it when it’s time to make a purchase. 

Why Is Storytelling Important?

You’ve probably heard the Maya Angelou quote:

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

The same is true in marketing. Brands have vibes and emotions that consumers will remember more strongly than specific details. Consistent storytelling can influence your customers’ feelings and encourage them to choose your franchise when they are ready.

If that feels a little abstract, let’s break it down with some examples:

Examples Of Great Storytelling

While the drawbacks to using branded keywords are widely recognized, the reasons to start using them are actually far more numerous and, taken together, paint a pretty compelling picture. Reasons like:

  • The slogan, “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks” is good, but it’s also an example of great storytelling. The story is: that big-box stores may have more choices, but Ace Hardware has helpful staff who can assist with home improvement projects. They know what they’re doing and can help you find what you need.

  • As other fast-food brands have gone upscale with their offerings, trying to offer a more-refined experience, Taco Bell has cornered the market on affordable food, in large quantities, and later operating hours. Essentially, Taco Bell targets young people who are hungry after a late night of partying, and it’s potent.

  • Even though it’s not a franchise, all businesses can learn from Disney’s storytelling. Disney doesn’t just sell products or theme parks, they consistently offer a magical experience. Listen to parents talk about taking their kids to Disney World, and it sounds like they believe “Disney magic” is real.

There are others, of course: Domino’s Pizza revived sales with their “Pizza Turnaround” campaign, Dunkin’ Donuts has positioned itself as the fuel of choice for busy Americans, and Starbucks is the daytime hangout and meeting place for millions of people. All of these are the result of stories – and the customer is the hero. 

Storytelling Basics

Crafting a compelling story for your brand requires more than simply saying “Once upon a time.” It needs careful planning to be successful. It’s more than we can cover in one blog post, but here are some key points to remember: 

  • Know your audience: Understanding your customers – and potential customers – is crucial to building a story that resonates with them.

  • Hone your message: Start with your company values and mission, and figure out how to share those values through your story.

  • Find a hero: typically, the hero is the customer. Whether it’s conquering the day with an iced Dunkin’ coffee, or saving dinner with a piping hot Domino’s pizza, your customer is the protagonist of the story. Highlight their experiences.

  • Structure your story: Like in English classes, your story needs conflict, setting, rising action, resolution, etc.

  • Engage feelings: the story isn’t something like “our products are more reasonably priced,” it’s “because our products are reasonably priced, Tina was still able to afford Christmas presents.”

  • Sell your story: if you tell a good enough story with your brand, the products and services will sell themselves. Audiences can smell inauthenticity, so you must focus on an authentic story.

  • Be consistent: Once you’ve settled on a story for your brand, you’ve got to stick to it. Focusing on ensuring that all your marketing reinforces your central narrative is key to making it work.

These are broad strokes, but brands that keep their story in mind can help themselves stand out among the competition. 

Final Thoughts

As a franchisor, it’s crucial to understand your brand’s story and communicate it effectively to your target customers. Franchisees also need to understand your franchise’s story so they can share it consistently in their local marketing. Storytelling in franchise marketing is what separates a big name from a local chain.

If you know your brand’s story and are ready to share it, Balihoo could be the solution you need. With expertise in hyperlocal marketing, paid search campaigns, and even CTV advertising, Balihoo is a leader in multi-location marketing. Reach out today.


Written by
Sean Kelly, Senior Content Writer

Sean Kelly is a Senior Content Specialist, St. Louis-based engagement expert with 20 years of experience in content writing, and 8 years in adtech.

Connect With Us