Local Area Marketing for new Franchisees

Michelle Gamble, Founder, Marketing Angels

So you’ve taken the leap, done the deal, said goodbye to ‘working for the man’ and now you’re ready to build a great business. But where do you get started? Marketing your new business can seem like an overwhelming task, with so much to do.

No doubt you’ll also be spending a lot of time in the early days working in your business and getting to know your customers, hiring and training staff and getting your head around the operations.

To set up a strong and sustainable marketing approach, it’s best that you don’t try and do too much all at once and experience marketing burn-out and even worse cash burn. Taking a step-by-step approach and prioritising in your first year will pay off in the long run.

The following is a guideline to how you might roll out a marketing approach based on the early days of starting and running your franchise.

The first three months – Settling In:
Get to know what your brand is all about

Take some time to review any brand personality, brand essence and the story behind your brand.

Understanding the brand promise to customers means you start from the very first day bringing that to life for people.

This is really important especially in the early days when you might be recruiting staff. If your brand is about ‘fun’ you can make sure that the people you hire who are dealing with your customers, have fun, playful personalities and can live out the brand values through the customer experience.

Getting to know your customers

Your franchisor should have provided you with detailed information about ‘who’ represents the ideal customer for your product.

Take the time to really understand the ideal customer so that you can start to identify someone who is likely to become a loyal, high value customer that raves about your brand. That way you can make sure that you are really looking after them.

You should also be taking the time to get to know the demographics of your local area. Whilst your franchisor has customer information that applies to the brand broadly, every area is different and only you can really identify the customer base in your local area. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has recently distributed the latest Census information. You can get a breakdown of demographics by postcode, which will help you understand in more detail the attributes of your local area.

Tap into your friends and family

Who better to support you than the people who already know you, love you and trust you!

Your close friends and family will be willing participants in helping you support your brand. Get in touch and let them know what you are doing and ask for their support. Invite them into your store and extend an offer for bringing a friend or provide them with something that will help them spread the word on your behalf.

Focus on customer loyalty from Day One

The most cost effective and enduring way to grow your customer base and revenue is to encourage customer loyalty. A strong base of loyal customers means you have to spend less time and money gaining new customers. Loyal customers will bring friends and family to you.

If you have a rewards system – use it, from the very first time someone purchases from you. Add any customer information to your database, often your head office will send out regular newsletters and offers saving you time and effort in the long run.

Encourage any customers to ‘like’ your Facebook page or follow you on other social media platforms. That way you get to have a passive ongoing conversation with them, keeping them top of mind.

Introduce yourself to your neighbours If you are in a main street or have businesses around you that could use your product or service, go and introduce yourself! Provide them with an offer to try your service for free. It’s a simple, effective and easy thing to do in the early days whilst you often have more time.

The next three to six months – Getting out and about
Make friends with your local media

Perhaps you had an opening day event that created some buzz. Your franchisor might have contacted your local paper and delivered press releases and photos for publishing.

Now it’s your turn to keep up the relationship. Drop off some free product or samples or an offer to come into your store to try what you have to offer. Follow up with a phone call and give them your personal number. so you can be there to greet them. Add them to your database so they know what you are up to. You might even offer to write a regular column, providing them with your first one. A good relationship with the media will prevent you having to spend money on advertising to get your brand out there.

Meet your local community

Do some research on local business groups, go along to some to see how you might get involved. These include your local chamber, business networking groups (such as BCI), women in business groups and perhaps event local clubs such as Rotary or Lions. Wear your branded uniform at events and take along samples, business cards, brochures etc. Ask permission from people you exchange business cards with to add them to your database.

Introduce yourself to local sporting clubs and groups to see if there’s a way you can support them in return form branding and promotion.

Getting involved in local events

By now you should have developed relationships with your local community stakeholders. It’s time to see what local events are happening in your area that you could possibly get involved in. Think Australia Day activities, family fun days, local fundraisers and festivals.
Use the opportunity to provide free offers, free samples to get people into your store in return for brand exposure and promotion. Your franchisor should have creative templates and ads you can provide local groups.

Six months and beyond – getting serious and strategic

By now you should have your operations, staffing and systems in order so that you can feel confident in perhaps looking into running some formal promotions knowing that your store can handle a busy rush as a result of some promotion.

Get familiar with the national marketing plan

Make yourself familiar with any national promotions that you can leverage at a local level. Get a copy of the head office marketing plan and make an appointment with your area manager, or business development manager to brainstorm ways you could make the most of the promotion locally.

Spend some time reviewing and planning

By now you should have a good sense of what marketing has been effective since you started.

Set aside some time to review the results of your marketing efforts. What led to new customers, which of those have turned into loyal high value customers that grow your business? Also evaluate what hasn’t worked and why?

Based on the results, work on a formal marketing plan and calendar for the next six months.

In Summary

Overall you should have prioritised building local awareness and grassroots relationships in the early days that will bring you sustainable and steady revenue that you can then build on to grow your business. It’s no silver bullet approach, but one that will make sure that you are around for the long term and are building a valuable business asset.

Michelle Gamble is the founder and Chief Angel of Marketing Angels. She has built Marketing Angels from the ground up over ten years ago and worked with hundreds of small to medium sized businesses across all industries.

Marketing Angels is a national marketing agency operating in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth helping small to medium sized business “get smarter marketing”. Marketing Angels works with several franchise organisations including Travelscene American Express, Telco in a Box, Guzman Y Gomez and Award Bookkeeping.

Contact Marketing Angels on:
Phone: 1300 858 311
Web: www.marketingangels.com.au