The age old frustrations of department misalignment within corporate structure does exist in the world of franchising; marketing vs. operations, operations vs. product, product vs. warehouse. Knowing who is responsible for what and who is important so that roles and responsibilities are clear from the outset.
It begs the questions, whose job is it to engage franchisees in the local community, how is this achieved and why is it important?
With suburbs changing rapidly, so are the demographics for any given area which means that the target audience for your brand is also constantly changing.
If your franchisee reached out to their local community six or more months ago, the chances are that their original audience has moved on or their needs have changed, maybe some new competitors have moved on to their turf. This means they need to reconnect and re-engage with their local community.
So, have you empowered your franchisee with the knowledge and know how to do this?
Promoting a business is not a natural ability for many franchisees. They may be masters of their trade or vocation but have not been trained with the skills and knowledge to market their business and as such do not see the results they could. These franchisees buy into your brand so that they have access to the tools and knowledge that they would otherwise find difficult to access or unaffordable, needed to make their business a success.
As a franchisor, are you focused on how to make sure that your brand has its best chance of success in the local market? One of the keys to this is to know the target audience or demographic and their specifics, what do they want, what do they need, what are their priorities and how do you reach out to them and engage with them?
Do you supply the marketing magic at a local level to turn the franchisee into the brand ambassador, keeping in mind that it is not necessarily a one size fits all approach? Do you set the big hairy goal of marketing dollars exceeding the minimum spend as set out in your operations manuals? As a franchisor, do you have the know how and the inclination to measure participation in local area engagement and the success of each campaign? Who is leading the local marketing calendar, sharing the creative and training the franchisee to spot marketing opportunities? Who, if anyone, is holding the franchisee accountable on the marketing spend percentage which will increase their sales and bottom line?
You need to be able to educate your franchisees on how to maximise their return on investment when it comes to spending their precious marketing dollars. Talk with them and find out what their goals are for each campaign. Is it to increase sales with their existing customer base or reach new customers and increase sales that way?
Campaigns centred around Business 2 Business are one successful way to engage the local area market. By teaming up with other local businesses market reach potential is multiplied.
Depending on the services that your brand offers, teaming up with other local businesses in your area to provide new residents in the area a ‘show bag’ through a real estate agent to showcase services available in the area. It may even include some special or discount offers for people new to the community. If they are moving from a different area they could appreciate some local information on what their new hometown has to offer.
Working with universities or corporates can enable your brand to reach a large audience through promotion of special VIP nights/events, loyalty cards, spaces for events and flyers, the opportunities are limitless but you need to ensure that it is a mutually beneficial partnership.
Another idea to promote local engagement would be to encourage your franchisees to share resources and ideas within a local business group. A lot of areas have their own local business owners committees or boards that resource share and also share marketing costs.
Local sponsorship of business awards is yet another way to create goodwill with a brand and to reach out to the local community. Remember that once you have reached out and made a connection, it is important to maintain that connection with the local community.
Social media can be a wonderful tool for local area engagement when used correctly. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter are free apps and can be used as a meeting place for customers and like minded people, they can come together and create their own community which your franchisees can be a part of. When used incorrectly though, social media can be a brand’s worst nightmare.
Does your brand have plans, guidelines and principles in place on how social media can and should be used in a business sense? For example, can individual franchisees create their own Facebook page for their store/business that targets their local community, if they can, do you have guidelines as to how this page can be set up and are your franchisees aware of them? Who mediates the page and ensures that the content posted is aligned with what the brand represents?
Do you have proven formulas for using social media to engage with the local community that are cost effective and offer a good return on investment? Franchisees need to be trained across all areas of social media as it can be unfamiliar and daunting territory for those that are not digital natives. Education and guidance is key to engaging with the local market via social media.
Research is important when considering which approach your franchisees should take when looking to engage their local community. What is relevant in the community, are there current events or opportunities to be involved in, speak with customers and staff to gauge their habits and needs so that campaigns can be specific and targeted to the area.
Another great way to connect to the local community is at the grass roots sports level through awards and sporting groups. Who do you franchisees want to connect with? Young families can be connected with through junior sporting associations and schools while they can make a connection with the older demographics through senior sport and recreation groups. These are people that are already engaged in the local community.
People talk and if you teach your franchisees how to engage in a positive manner with a few individuals from a specific group, no doubt word will soon get around and your brand will reach more and more people.
Think of the snowball effect and how this can work in a positive and negative manner. Positive engagement will see an increase in customers, gathering momentum as more and more people tell their friends or family outside of the initial circle, the same can and does happen with negative engagement, this highlights the importance of having specific plans and guidelines across all aspects of your brand, including local area marketing and engagement.
This can be achieved through the creation of specific plans that address the goals and objectives of each individual franchisee and that also maintain brand integrity, a local area marketing and engagement strategies must always aim to support the brand marketing plan as well as the company vision.
Local area marketing and local area engagement plans need to be reviewed and updated frequently. Are the plans working and how do you measure their success?
FC Business Solutions offer a wide range of services, including courses, in social media, local area engagement and local area marketing. They can also review existing plans and recommend ways to maximise marketing dollars and reach, help implement changes that will see your brand grow they can also start from scratch with you to ensure your LAM is aligned with your brands marketing guideline, principles and vision.