One of the greatest franchisee frustrations centers on local marketing and the struggle to obtain marketing materials targeted to their particular location and demographics. Too often, operators are provided with little or no local marketing support—when they are, the options they receive are ineffective. The issue is driven by the lack of attention that local marketing receives as a part of the overall marketing plan of the brand.
However, if companies can embrace local marketing as a viable strategy that’s beneficial not only to the corporate brand but also to the local operators, this dilemma can be resolved.
Here are some important issues and points to consider.
Generic Marketing Collateral
We must question the efficacy of universal marketing collateral. For example, does it make sense for a Florida franchisee to receive the same materials that a Minnesota franchisee receives in the dead of winter? And what about imagery? Will the same graphic image of a group of people appeal to a New York City operator versus a Memphis, Tennessee, franchisee? Contrasting geographic areas demand targeted messaging, and different images appeal to varying demographics.
Franchisees often lack access to the appropriate brand-compliant tools necessary for local events and activities. For instance, they should be able to quickly and efficiently prepare for an event with a school or hospital. If the provided tool set is weak, operators have to pick up the slack and trek to the printers for manufacturing when they’re already pressed for time.
Customer Service Component
An operator must have a convenient source for marketing materials if they’re going to implement any local marketing initiatives. The importance of a quick and easy service solution for local marketing can’t be overstated, especially when it comes to what kind of flexibility franchisees have with their service providers. When operators need local marketing elements, the ideal scenario is to have the ability to obtain all marketing materials from one place, as opposed to gathering various materials from multiple, scattered locations. If brands adopt a one-stop-shop methodology for all of their marketing elements, it saves quite a bit of time and headache for the operators.
Execution of Strategy
Today, reacting immediately to changes in the marketplace is more crucial than ever. Yet the inability to implement real-time, effective changes is a perpetual source of frustration for many franchisees. If operators are forced to wait before receiving new marketing collateral for new price points, promotional themes, and so on, they could completely lose their window of opportunity. From a competitive standpoint, they often find themselves in race to the finish when reacting to these new developments—if they’re not first out of the gate they suffer the consequences.
Without necessary support from corporate, operators are forced to generate local campaigns on their own without the proper tools, funding, and planning. Consequently, materials are poor quality, printing is expensive, and the end product may or may not meet brand standards.
Now, here are some keys elements to overcoming these local marketing obstacles.
Accessibility & Ease of Use: The technological approach used to view, customize, and order local marketing materials must be accessible to all operators, regardless of their location. A Web-based solution is generally the best option as opposed to a program that must be installed or downloaded. The viewing and customization process should be easy, fast, and manageable.
Clean, Modular Design: Marketing elements should be designed in a modular format, allowing individual components to be customized. Thus, local operators can apply their knowledge of community, preferences, and traffic patterns. The design should be flexible so that marketers can apply new information and fresh content without having to redesign each piece.
Established Funding Model: Most franchisee agreements stipulate that franchisees invest a portion of their own funds for marketing, so when it comes to local marketing, there needs to be a clear incentive. The most successful models aggregate everyone’s spend together, minimizing individual risk and making franchisees more likely to test new ideas.
Education: Perhaps the most important component to successful local marketing is operator education. If franchisees aren’t comfortable or trained on the marketing systems in place, they’re less likely to take full advantage of the available technology.
To sum up, if corporations equip stores and operators with the necessary tools, many of their pain points can be alleviated. Effective local marketing is achievable through tools such as an easy-to-use Web system, customizable materials, designated local marketing funding, and proper operator education.
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