By Patti Hone
Once someone makes the decision to become a franchisee, they should focus on driving business to their location. The franchisees were given a territory, a community in which to do business. So how do you get people in the door? Build a loyal customer base? Ring the cash register? The answer is to start locally, because this is where franchisees can really shine.
Local marketing must begin, finally, locally, in the store, restaurant or office. The marketing message should appear wherever appropriate, especially when a customer comes into contact with the business. Franchisees need to make sure the message they want to send is read loud and clear.
Think about a time when you experienced great customer service. Maybe the owner of a store you visited remembered your name or last order and asked if you would like the same? It might even be as simple as greeting you with a big smile and a “Hello, welcome, how can I help you?” Recognized and well received, there’s a good chance people will be loyal customers. Loyal customers are the best marketing tools a business can have. They spread the “good word” about the business because they were able to help them. If franchisees take a look at their existing customer base and spending habits, loyal customers typically spend around 10 to one compared to other customers. Therefore, a small increase in customer loyalty could dramatically increase your bottom line.
Word of mouth or personal referrals are one of the most powerful advertising tools available. It costs nothing and is the most well-received or “credible” form of marketing. Business owners can encourage word of mouth referrals with coupons, discounts for frequent buyers, family and friend events, and any other means to encourage customers to get the word out on their behalf. If people speak positively about a business, it will be a priority when they need the product or service in the future.
Get to know your neighbors
Visible and tangible involvement in the community is essential to become “well known”. It is also very effective advertising, especially for small businesses. Consider joining forces with other businesses to increase advertising power and marketing reach. Find a business in the neighborhood that, if paired, could create great synergy. Not only will the combined marketing efforts make more noise than individually, each business is also adding to its customer base and supporting each other. This is a real community awareness program.
To be involved
Networking contacts and introductions are a cost effective marketing method for any consumer or business to business service or product. A variety of networking opportunities exist in all regions and neighborhoods, including trade associations, chambers of commerce, clubs, breakfasts, lunches and dinners for business owners, or anywhere where potential customers come together to communicate and socialize. Use your imagination and be enthusiastic about your business and it will translate into that next customer.
Local marketing efforts must permeate the local community on many levels. Franchisees want to keep their message fresh, exciting, frequent and strong. Establish an internal marketing calendar and work with staff to generate a new reason to talk to customers every week. It can be as simple as promoting a new service offering, where the business terrace is now open, or celebrating an anniversary. If the event is newsworthy, contact the local newspaper and city authorities. Find out who runs the local BIA and make sure they are there for support and exposure.
All media are looking for news, especially local newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations which are constantly looking for news from the community. Reach out to the local editor / producer, get to know them, and try to establish yourself as a source or “expert” to contact for comments or quotes on topics journalists can write about. Submit press releases when you have news to share. Include a photo if possible, as photos improve the chances of being posted. Remember, press release advertising is free advertising, so don’t be shy but be timely. The media want to know what’s going on before that happens, so give them plenty of time so that they have a chance to send a reporter or a film crew to cover any event.
To be part of a community, franchisees must show that they support it. Find a local charity, school team, or community event to support and fundraise or donate time, products and services to help. By caring about the people and the needs of the community, customers will recognize and appreciate the company for doing so.
When consumers revolve around a business, their decisions are rarely based solely on marketing messages. Consumers trust their own experiences. They choose to remain faithful based on what they have personally experienced. Therefore, devote most of the marketing effort to the stages that lead to the sale. Target customers and make sure the product line meets their wants and needs and communicate offers in a way that customers can relate to. If this is accomplished, then when the customer is ready to buy, just facilitate the exchange and they won’t feel like they’ve been sold. Never underestimate the power of the relationship. Customers may choose to buy from your business over another just because they feel better when they walk in the door.
Make it clear that you are local
Local marketing is all about building strong, lasting relationships with individuals and groups. By being a valuable resource and ensuring that business goals support the needs of the community, franchisees can create a win-win situation for everyone. By supporting the community while growing a business, owners will gain loyal customers, improved reputation, enhanced brand awareness, and ultimately increased sales. Local marketing and community relationships and support are essential to the success of any franchise.
Establish yourself as a source or expert to contact for comments or quotes on topics journalists write about.
Find a local charity, school team, or community event to support and fundraise or donate time, products and services to help.
Consider joining forces with other businesses to increase advertising power and marketing reach.
Patti Hone is President and Creative Director of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Patti is an award-winning author and speaker who is popular at conferences, trade shows and industry events. His enthusiasm and over 25 years of hands-on franchise marketing experience translates into an entertaining and informative program sought after by businesses across North America. For more information, contact Patti at [email protected]