Local marketing strategies for franchisees

Lauren Fried, Managing Director, Pulse Marketing

National marketing campaigns for franchises are designed to be an effective way to communicate consistent messages across all outlets.

However, ultimately all marketing efforts funnel down to the local areas of each franchisee. This is why it is vital for franchisees to implement some form of local marketing strategy that is on brand and relevant to their specific market.

The benefits of local marketing can include increased sales (as your messages are tailored specifically to the people in your community) and greater loyalty.

Franchisees that interact with their local community daily, have a unique opportunity to understand what will resonate best with their customers – an insight the head office is unlikely to be in touch with.

The trick lies in finding a balance between maintaining national branding and communicating the brand in a way that’s unique to your operations and most relevant to the customers in your area. After all the core assumption in franchising is that customers will have the same experience in every branch of the business.

The three key ingredients every franchise needs for their local marketing includes market research, a clear strategy and aligning marketing goals with the marketing tactics used.

Market research

In the planning stages of your strategy consider your customers to understand them as much as possible.

Get to know the demographics of your local area. While your franchisor has customer information that applies to the brand broadly, every area is different and as a franchisee you are ideally placed to identify the customer base in your local area.

Use data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to get a breakdown of demographics by postcode, which will help you understand in more detail the attributes of your local area.

Understanding customer habits and behaviours is also helpful. A cost effective way of doing this is browsing the web to discover blogs, websites and publications read and frequented by your target market. Uncovering who is the ideal target for your brand, as well the best way to reach them, are two essential factors to consider if you wish to communicate effectively and efficiently.

Developing a strategy

A first step of any marketing strategy is setting measurable objectives. These should be based on your ability to discover, evaluate and prioritise the issues most pressing in your business and translate them into marketing objectives.

The best marketing objectives are those that relate directly to your business goals. For example, if your business goals include increasing revenue by 20 per cent in the next 12 months, your marketing objectives could focus on attracting more new clientele or increasing repeat business.

You need to quantify how your goal is going to come to life in bite sized pieces – for example 10 new clients in the first month. Then extend that goal into getting them to visit five more times over the 12 month period.

Measurement is a really important part of the strategy – and results need to be tracked regularly so that successful strategies can be prioritised and increased, while reducing resources dedicated to strategies that prove less effective. It is then possible to develop a strategy that will achieve the highest ROI and penetration of your target. The marketing strategy will form the foundation on which all marketing decisions are built.

Aligning marketing tactics to your goals

One of the many advantages of local marketing is being able to operate on a relatively small budget and change your marketing tactics according to the results each one is generating. Both traditional and digital marketing techniques can be used successfully for local marketing.

Your target market, budget and marketing objectives should influence which tactics you choose to pursue. Tactic choice is also a matter of business capacity and how much time you and your team are able to spend on marketing.

Two proven types of marketing tactics franchisees should consider are:

1. Awareness marketing
2. Relationship building marketing

1. Awareness marketing

Awareness marketing is instrumental in helping a brand to establish a stronger position in the market and works particularly well for new businesses.

If you’re a new franchisee business you might not have a strong foothold in your local market. It’s likely that your local customers don’t know much about you and may prefer your competitor with whom they have an established relationship. If this is the case, your marketing goals should focus on raising awareness and key messages around your brand, like reliability and value.

Being found online is one way to increase brand awareness for your business. Speak to your head office about any guidelines they may have around franchisee presence online. If possible set up a local website and optimise that website for search engines to generate leads.
Maximise your online presence by registering your business with Google maps and creating profiles on online business registries.

In terms of offline marketing, being actively involved in the local community can raise your brand profile and help you build an initial relationship with potential customers. Ask yourself what events, dates, and celebrations people hold where the community comes together and make sure your business is involved in those events that align with your business goals and values. Getting local PR is another way of boosting brand awareness. Send your local papers free product, or an invitation to come into your store to try what you have to offer.

Keep an eye on the industry trends affecting your business and offer to provide an expert comment to the local media.

Despite the proliferation of new forms of marketing, mail marketing is also very effective as long as the message has relevance for the recipient. Mail marketing is great for sending out promotions or informing your customers about any noteworthy developments in the business such as an introduction of a new product or service.

You can also use mail marketing to reconnect with previous customers who have not purchased from you for a while and offer them special incentives to engage in business again.

2. Relationship building marketing

Relationship building marketing is marketing that’s focused on retaining existing customers and building loyalty to generate revenue through repeat purchases.

Franchisees that invest in this type of marketing can reap great benefits such as developing a good brand reputation and having loyal customers promote the business through word of mouth.

Social media can be a good place to gauge customer sentiment and to interact with customers on a regular basis. Many franchise businesses use Facebook for customer service queries and for feedback to further understand their consumer and to provide a superior level of customer service. Again, check with your head office to see what their social media policy involves and structure your own social media efforts around it.

Email marketing is an often overlooked yet effective form of marketing, especially for creating a long-lasting relationship with customers. It is cost effective and can be set up within a day. It can also give website traffic a substantial boost, particularly if the content is relevant for your audience.

Use an existing customer data-base to send out email messages, but make sure you have recipients’ permission to engage in opt-in marketing. Otherwise there might be legal implications.

Establishing customer loyalty is the final frontier in terms of relation building marketing. Loyal customers not only bring in more revenue through repeat purchases, they can also act as brand ambassadors and raise your profile through word of mouth and by referring you to new customers.

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 a discounted price or for free. It’s a simple, effective and easy thing to do in the early days whilst you often have more time.

If you have a rewards system – use it, from the very first time someone purchases from you. If you don’t, invest in developing a simple program, anything to reward your customers for buying from you.

The challenging task of standing out from the competition as a franchisee business can be made much simpler if you are prepared to invest in local marketing to complement national campaigns.

Local marketing will bring in new business, give you unique insights into what your customers really want and help you establish a better and more meaningful relationship with them.

Lauren is the Managing Director and founder of Pulse Marketing and a past Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year. Her marketing agency has won multiple national and international marketing effectiveness awards.

Pulse Marketing is a full-service marketing and advertising agency, famous for its passion and committed to delivering great ideas and powerful results in the areas of marketing, creative, digital, and social.

Web: www.pulsemarketing.com.au.