by: Natalie Walkley
The success of a franchise system directly depends on the success of its Franchisees. In order for Franchisees to grow their business, successful local marketing is vital. It sounds like a simple piece to the puzzle…so why do so many local marketing initiatives fail? Here are many of the challenges in local marketing that if not properly addressed may inhibit the growth of your franchise system, along with best practices & solutions for getting the traction critical to success.
1. The Profile of a Franchisee
Franchisees are hardworking entrepreneurs and courageous people and they play a significant role in a business sector that accounts for roughly 1 in every 8 jobs in America and Franchise organizations are a huge driving force of economic growth. However, most Franchisees are operations- focused and they may or may not understand marketing in a way that guarantees continuous growth of their customer base. Even the minority who do understand it are so occupied running a business they don’t have the time to become experts, even if they have the ambition.
Allow your Franchisees to do what they do well. Ensure that local marketing initiatives are rolled out as an “operator-friendly” endeavor. The key is to make sure that your Franchisees can quickly and easily execute marketing efforts that align with the organization’s long-term marketing goals. (e.g. A Franchisee can easily launch a targeted email campaign without having to upload a spreadsheet and verify customer data)
2. Increasing Complexity
The landscape for local marketing has changed significantly with the exponential growth of digital marketing technologies leading the way. According to an IBM study, 78% of CMOs expect more complexity over the next 5 years. While historically Franchisees needed only to cover a handful of marketing channels, now they almost have to have a presence on Facebook, Google, Twitter, Bing, YouTube, Yelp, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, and maybe even MySpace (thanks to Justin Timberlake’s endorsement) to remain competitive. They also have to create effective local print campaigns, email campaigns and an advertising strategy that will simultaneously recruit new customers while converting regulars into loyal customers. This is a time-consuming and complex endeavor for even the most ambitious marketers, let alone Franchisees.
The best solution is the one they will actually use! Give your Franchisee a centralized platform for executing local marketing. Most Franchisees lead incredibly busy lives and are limited time in the time they can devote to building sales. If they have to remember a myriad of passwords and log in to 15 different accounts, the likelihood of them having the time or bandwidth to do so is extremely limited. With a simple, centralized solution, not only are Franchisees more likely to execute local marketing, but they are less likely to get frustrated in the process. Furthermore, putting every marketing channel in one place means that every time your Franchisees log in, they have the visibility to see all of the proven marketing tools in their toolbox. The more exposure to these tools, the more likely the adoption.
3. Threat of Brand Dilution
Your brand encompasses how people perceive your business and is arguably the most valuable asset to your franchise system. While Facebook has become an essential for local businesses, it can serve as a potential threat to your brand image and reputation. If not clearly defined and/or regulated, one brand in the hands of many unit owners can create the potential for great inconsistencies and misalignment.
While a smaller franchise system may be able to regularly monitor its brand presence, it would be virtually impossible for larger systems to easily ensure that logos, typefaces, messaging and general branding is executed successfully among each of its franchise owners.
Provide Franchisees with a digital brand identity guide and access to a centralized library of marketing materials. Cutting edge ad building and local website technology allows individual owners to personalize corporately branded materials and easily utilize them their social media platforms or send to a local printer. Likewise, it allows the Franchisor to lock-down the areas they want to ensure are consistently portrayed. This ensures that local marketing efforts will serve to crystalize your brand rather than potentially detract from your identity.
4. Lack of Customer Data Integration
Data-driven marketing enables business owners to target a particular demographic or segment of their customer base. However, most business owners maintain transactional customer data in a disparate system from the one they use to send campaigns, making targeted campaigns arduous and time-consuming. Imagine that a pizza shop wants to launch a targeted email campaign to customers who have not purchased in the last 2 months. In order to do so, they would need to run a transactional report within their CRM, export the report into excel, then upload the excel spreadsheet into their email marketing platform. And, they have to do this with every campaign. Without an integrated system, a business owner is limited to the number of effective campaigns he or she can run strictly based on the amount of time it takes to do so. Do you really want your Franchisees spending precious time data-mining?
Having your CRM integrated with your marketing platform saves time, which equates to money in both you and your Franchisees’ pocket! Targeted campaigns are proven to be more effective than blanket efforts, and yet most business owners don’t have the time or resources to run these types of campaigns. By also integrating transactional data, Franchisees can quickly and effortlessly run a smart campaign based on customer loyalty, purchase history, or other pertinent data you collect.
As much as possible, data should trigger automated campaigns. (e.g. campaigns based on birthdays, significant dates, etc.) Imagine that you receive a free voucher in the mail from a coffee shop for your birthday. Not are you likely to use your voucher, but you may also purchase a muffin to go along with your latte. It’s probable that you also continue your “subscription” to their list to ensure you don’t miss out on future benefits. However, this is simply too time-consuming for business owners without the right tools. With the right tools, you afford your Franchisees the means to execute programs proven to create a higher response rate, resulting in more customers who spend more money, more often.
5. Absence of Key Metrics
Every business owner needs to know exactly which activities generate the greatest ROI and which activities are failing to grow their bottom line. Unfortunately, many Franchisees don’t know which metrics they need, much less have the capability to collect that data locally, let alone at the headquarters level. Albert Einstein once defined insanity as, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” When it comes to local marketing, many do not even realize that their initiatives are insane—not yielding the desired results and yet run over and over again.
On the other side of the coin, many Franchisors still lack the metrics they need to evaluate each unit’s performance critical for coaching. These metrics are imperative for continuous improvement as well as guaranteeing the growth of any franchise system.
With detailed metrics guiding their initiatives, Franchisees can ensure that they are not wasting time and money on ineffective campaigns. Every Franchisee should know how many customers resulted from a certain campaign, and have the statistics to back their decision to either replicate or eliminate a particular effort based on the ROI or lack thereof.
Likewise, Franchisors should have a high level of transparency within their system. If a lead comes in through a corporate landing page and is disseminated to a local unit, the Franchisor should be able to track that lead throughout the entire process. Franchisors should also be able to see which local units are marketing effectively so they can help other locations replicate proven successful campaigns.
While having these metrics puts your organization one step in the right direction, it is also imperative to convey them in an easily accessible platform, with a way to directly align them to your organizational goals and marketing plan.
While local marketing involves a myriad of challenges, we make it a point to become experts in the challenges that franchisors face. To hear more about how FranConnect can help your franchise organization address these challenges and help your Franchisees execute fruitful, revenue-generating campaigns, contact 1.800.280.8305 or visit zcubator.com
 “With Financing, Franchisees Create Jobs.” Atlanta Journal Constitution, http://www.franchise.org/uploadedFiles/ajc.pdf
 “CMOs Struggle to Acclimate to Changing Landscape.” Advertising Age.