The Value of Local Area Marketing for Franchisees

Samantha Brooks | Director | Fuse Agency

The Value of Local Area Marketing for Franchisees

Congratulations! Your nationally-recognised franchisor, with a sizeable marketing budget and keen eye on the marketplace, has just launched a huge Australia-wide marketing campaign, thereby propelling your franchise into the spotlight. Great stuff!

But as wonderful as this is for the brand and trickle-down effect to all franchisees, you can’t rest on your laurels and rely on the strength of this campaign and others that may or may not follow. As you will read in this article, there is an extremely important realm of marketing that franchisees can’t disregard in order make their franchise as successful as the national brand - Local Area Marketing, or if you’ll allow me to indulge in some industry-speak - LAM.

To help you see the value in LAM, we have outlined how this form of marketing can propel your franchise to new heights, as well as offering ideas on how to do so. You know all this already though right? Well, a reminder never hurt and you may just get some new ideas or inspiration. Some of these ideas and insights are as simple as can be, but are highly effective and often overlooked in favour of initiatives with more immediate impact.

Need reminding of the value of Local Area Marketing?

• Increase your local awareness, engagement and reach.
• Generate customer loyalty and repeat business.
• Improve on, or establish, a positive brand image in the local community.
• Franchisees have a better understanding of their local target market and competitors. This is important to note as national franchisers may have a much broader target market demographic and entirely different competitors, compared to local franchises.
• Campaigns that are tailored to the vast differentials that occur among franchises in different communities. For example:

- Consider a national cafe franchise - in one community, this cafe might be the Friday afternoon hub for local high school students while in another, it may be a popular date night location for mature couples - pretty hard for a national campaign to cover all bases right? By getting to know your own local community (including factors such as age, popular fields of employment / unemployment and general interests and concerns), the community will get to know your business.

Local Area Marketing Ideas & Inspiration

• Events. Involvement in local events is a very powerful way to have face-to-face contact with the local community in a way that is not as forward or as overtly sales-focused as some national marketing efforts can be. It is also great for positive public image and brand awareness in the local community and to the relevant target market. For example:

- Sponsor local sporting teams - this will expose your brand to many local and relevant, and perhaps new, spectators.

- Get involved in local fundraising events - this shows your appreciation and support for local community matters.

- Where practical, offer your business space to hosts community events - attendees are sure to come back as paying guests if they have an enjoyable experience, plus you’re recognised as being a local ambassador for a variety of causes

• Make use of brand advocates and influencers that are in your local area to drive awareness. This marketing activity has the potential to reach a very large and relevant audience that is also nearby. Too often we see brands pay hundreds to enlist well-followed social influencers or even celebs with mega followers to post about their brand, where maybe only 40 of their followers are from the franchisee’s area. Great for the brand in general, but it’s not going to bring customers to your door.

Sourcing local advocates is much more affordable, and has the potential to target a far more relevant and engaged audience. For example:

- If you offer a food service, gifting a free meal or offering a discount to customers who upload a photo tagging the franchisee, or if they check- in online, this will create a much better targeted hype around your franchise’s offering.

• Digital. The ‘Local’ feature on Facebook that targets people within a certain distance of your business - it’s cost-effective, and easy to execute with Facebook taking care of the hard work.

• Share your story. People like to be able to relate on a personal level. Give the business a unique personality and people will want to show their support. Local media and social media are useful avenues to share your business’s story, and even those of your staff and loyal customers.

• Stay active. The more active you are in different areas of the community, the more often your business name will be mentioned in a discussion among friends and community members.

• Keep your customers involved through personal communication and engagement. Depending on the business, some ideas are: mailing list and social media engagement, e-newsletters, comment or feedback cards. Let’s not forget that the more your community feels included, the more they will include themselves (by visiting/ recommending your business).

• Tee up alliances and cross promotions with another local business that shares synergy with yours. For example, if you have a healthy food offering it makes sense to partner with a gym, or for a family restaurant to connect with local schools and sporting clubs where families are in abundance.

• Public Relations. When you’re doing something great in the community make sure you let the local paper and / or radio stations know what you’re up to - you never know, they just might cover it, thereby creating ‘money-can’t-buy’ media attention for your business.

A great example of a successful franchisee that engages with the local community is Hog’s Australia’s Steakhouse - Mandurah. We’re lucky ducks and get to work with the Hog’s Australia’s Steakhouse Franchise Support team. Earlier this year we attended their annual conference in Fiji where the Mandurah franchisee, Manish Gupta, was awarded the coveted ‘Franchisee of the Year’ award. Whilst there are many reasons he won, Manish is a well-known identity in his local community for a number of initiatives including providing free meals for the homeless and disadvantaged, particularly at Christmas time. He’s a man of generous spirit, but to his advantage, this has drawn a lot of attention to the restaurant from local media and community groups and has surely contributed to his success, with a second successful restaurant in Eaton also under his belt.

Many other Hog’s franchisees around the country are heavily involved in various local activities and provide support to schools, sporting clubs, charities and community groups.

Hog’s Surfers Paradise recently supported the Surfers Paradise Variety Waiters Race to raise money for Variety Children’s Charity. Hog’s Tamworth is a great supporter of the Country Music Festival, while Hog’s Cleveland joined with the Brisbane Racing Club to help support the inaugural Starlight Foundation’s Superhero Saturday.

Hog’s also localises its national initiatives by providing franchises the opportunity to host fan dinners and restaurant visits from their sponsorships like the DJR Penske Supercar team, which attracts new and often repeat customers.

While we’ve shown how abundant the advantages of LAM can be, it’s important to not disregard the marketing efforts of your franchisor. They have a whole head office team dedicated to ensuring your franchise is a success, and engage in activities from TV and radio advertising, to massive social media and digital campaigns, outdoor advertising, national sponsorships and more, and the success of these campaigns does funnel down the chain to local outlets. You also need to make sure you abide by any rules surrounding franchisee marketing campaigns so make sure you check franchisor guidelines, or even seek approval, before starting any form of local-area marketing - you don’t want to do something that may compromise a major national brand initiative.

The effort involved in LAM should not be discouraging. There is hard work involved in every successful business endeavour, plus you already enjoy the benefit of being a franchise with the weight of a recognised brand behind your business.

So, there you have it. You’re lucky enough to have your franchise involved in national marketing campaigns as organised by the franchisor, but now you have the necessary means to engage with your local audience for a much more targeted and meaningful campaign. A consistent approach to LAM, together with a reputable franchisor brand, is a powerful combination.

For more information or guidance on this matter, shoot an email to Sam, PR/Marketing expert from a full- service marketing agency in Newstead called Fuse Agency.

samantha@fuseagency.com.au